The Social Security Administration will be getting a new boss sometime later this year.
Michael J. Astrue’s six-term term as commissioner of the agency expires on January 19. President Barack Obama will nominate a successor who is subject to confirmation by the US Senate. The commissioner reports directly to the president.
Incumbent Social Security Commissioner Astrue, a George W. Bush appointee, is an honors graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, and has held various high-level positions in the federal government including serving as Associate Counsel to Presidents Reagan and Bush and General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the Social Security Administration “faces voluminous backlogs, potential insolvency and a raft of critics.” The Sun adds that the agency has about 11,000 employees whose primary function is to provide “benefits to retirees, disabled Americans, and the children of deceased workers.” In 2012, the Social Security Administration distributed about $778 billion in cash benefits to 56 million people.
Commissioner Astrue’s website summarizes his accomplishments after six years on the job:
“He has spearheaded highly successful new systems for fast-tracking disability claims, created National Hearing Centers to reduce local backlogs with video hearings, and both expanded and overhauled the agency’s suite of electronic services to make them simpler, faster and far more user-friendly.”
The Obama administration has not yet nominated a successor to Astrue.
Social Security Commissioner Astrue announced yesterday an expansion of the online services and features provided by those who have signed up for a my Social Security account.