The answer is no! On January 23, 2017, President Trump appointed Nancy A. Berryhill the Acting Commissioner of Social Security. The appointment occurred under a federal law known as the Vacancies Reform Act (5 U.S.C.A. 3345 et seq.). The term “acting” in important. The United States Congress did not confirm the appointment of Ms. Berryhill. The Vacancies Reform Act permits a person to serve in a government position which requires the advice and consent of the United States Senate without Senate confirmation. The point of the legislation is to allow a person to temporary full fill the duties of position while the Senate is considering a permanent replacement. However, this permission is time limited. In the case of the Social Security Administration, the President has not yet nominated a permanent replacement.
In Ms. Berryhill’s case, under the Vacancies Reform Act, the “acting” appointment ended November 17, 2017. The Social Security website continued to show that Ms. Berryhill was the “Acting” Commissioner of Social Security after November 17, 2018. On March 6, 2018, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, through its General Counsel, notified the President, Congress and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management. The notice had to do with the Social Security Administration’s continued use of the title of “Acting” Commissioner of Social Security, after November 17, 2017. The notice concluded that because of the continued use of the term “Acting” the Social Security Administration was in violation of the Vacancies Reform Act. Sometime after the letter was sent, the Social Security Administration changed its website. Now the website suggests that Ms. Berryhill is the Deputy Commissioner for Operations and “performing duties and functions not reserved to the Commissioner of Social Security.” For now, the position of the Commissioner of Social Security is vacant. Continue reading