Last Friday, Acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin submitted a letter to President Obama stating that she will be leaving her position at the end of his term on Friday, January 20th. Commissioner Colvin's decision comes as no surprise. She has been serving as acting commissioner since February 14, 2013.
Social Security Commissioners are appointed by the President to serve six year staggered terms. They must be confirmed by the Senate. Colvin was never confirmed and was working on an acting capacity. No one seems to know who will be appointed by Donald Trump or if he has any potential candidates under consideration. In the meantime, I understand that Nancy Berryhill, who now serves as Deputy Commissioner for Operations, will be the new Acting Commissioner until the next Commissioner is appointed.
Although I have been very critical of Commissioner Colvin, I must clarify that many of the problems that her agency has had stem from the Republicans' refusal to give her the budget that she needed. Currently, there is an astronomical backlog of disability cases with 1.1 million claimants waiting for a hearing.
Commissioner Colvin has always been a firm believer in Social Security's programs. In her letter to President Obama she stated:
Social Security is the most important social program ever implemented in this country. The agency distributes almost $1 trillion to 65,000,000 people each year. Millions of our fellow Americans rely on these benefits and the services we provide. Indeed, many of our seniors would be in poverty if they did not receive their Social Security benefits each month.
Colvin's appreciation of the importance of Social Security stands in sharp contrast with the statements made by many Conservatives who constantly trash talk the program calling it a "Ponzi Scheme". Donald Trump promised during his campaign that he was the only Republican who would not change Social Security or medicare. Now, he must keep his promise and appoint a new Commissioner who fully supports Social Security.