Martin O'Malley speaks at the Democratic National Convention

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley delivers remarks at the Democratic National Convention on July 27, 2016.

(Photo: Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)

Advocates Applaud Nomination of Martin O'Malley to Lead Social Security Administration

"At a time when Social Security is under attack from Republicans in Congress, O'Malley is the fighter that the American people need at SSA's helm."

President Joe Biden on Wednesday nominated former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley to head the Social Security Administration, a move that advocates applauded given his record of supporting Social Security expansion and opposing calls to raise the retirement age.

"At a time when Social Security is under attack from Republicans in Congress, O'Malley is the fighter that the American people need at SSA's helm," said Nancy Altman, the president of Social Security Works. "SSA has not had a Senate-confirmed commissioner nominated by a Democratic president since 2001. During that time, congressional Republicans have starved SSA of resources, resulting in backlogs and long waits. With staffing the lowest it has been in a quarter of a century, SSA's hardworking and dedicated public servants are overworked and underpaid."

If confirmed by the narrowly Democratic Senate, O'Malley would replace Acting SSA Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi, who took over the agency after Biden fired former President Donald Trump's commissioner, Andrew Saul, in 2021.

During his 2016 presidential campaign, O'Malley released a proposal that called for expanding Social Security benefits by requiring Americans who earn over $250,000 a year to contribute more to the program. Currently, the Social Security payroll tax only applies to the first $160,200 of earnings.

"We are confident that O'Malley, working closely with President Biden, will fight not only for expanded benefits and against cuts, but also for opening new field offices and against closing existing ones," Altman said. "Social Security Works looks forward to fighting for O’Malley's rapid confirmation and then working with him to protect and expand our Social Security system."

Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, also celebrated O'Malley's nomination, saying in a statement that "SSA needs a strong commissioner now more than ever."

"With 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day, the workload increases every day and the budget has been woefully inadequate to meet the needs of seniors, people with disabilities, and all American families," said Fiesta. "There is no time to waste. We urge the Senate to confirm Gov. O'Malley without delay."

O'Malley's nomination comes as SSA is facing a staffing crisis that has left employees feeling demoralized and exhausted, resulting in high turnover and longer wait times for people applying to receive benefits—problems that would likely get worse if the House GOP's proposed cuts to SSA's budget become law.

Julie Tippens, legislative director of the American Federation of Government Employees, warned last week that House Republicans' proposed $183 million in cuts to SSA's budget for the coming fiscal year would "devastate" the agency.

"More than 10,000 Americans die, and another 5,000 Americans are forced to declare bankruptcy, every year while waiting for their disability hearing," Tippens said. "More cuts to SSA will result in a rapid increase of wait times, force SSA offices to close in many communities, and reduce service hours to the public."

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