A deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration who oversaw 9,000 employees and a $1.2 billion budget often appeared “impaired” or “intoxicated” at work, six witnesses told the Washington Post in an investigation this week.
The woman remains in her position today, the Post said, even six months after acting Social Security commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi was presented with an internal report about the woman’s conduct. The agency has also received additional complaints about the individual in the months since.
“She is MIA, and they’re not holding anyone accountable,” one witness said of that official, adding that the department is “rudderless,” and that the woman had missed meetings.
“If you can’t do this job anymore, honestly, you should be raising your hand to say, ‘I can’t do 100 percent anymore,’ ” a member of the woman’s staff said, adding that “nothing has been done.”
The woman is also diabetic, the Post noted, and she “told a close circle of colleagues that she was dealing with medical issues stemming from the condition.”
A Social Security spokesperson told the Post that they could not comment on that specific individual due to privacy policies.
“When we receive allegations relating to potential personnel issues, including those involving executives or managers, we take appropriate action, as necessary,” the spokesman said.
“Given this and the information available, we have confidence in the Office of Hearings Operations’ leadership,” they added.
Much of the behavior, the report said, took place during the pandemic and over Microsoft Teams, the software the agency used for meetings. Some employees even discussed her behavior in instant messages during meetings.
The Social Security Administration has been embattled for much of the time since the start of the pandemic. The agency closed its offices for more than two years, finally reopening again in the spring. There continue to be complaints about slow service at Social Security offices around the country.
According to a February report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Social Security Administration was in need of “large funding boosts.”
“The Social Security Administration (SSA) has suffered from over a decade of underinvestment, compounded by the COVID pandemic. Appropriations for 2022 are an opportunity for policymakers to begin making significant reinvestments in the agency, not least to ensure that its planned resumption of in-person service goes smoothly and safely and that it adequately serves applicants and beneficiaries left behind during the pandemic,” the report said.
“Policymakers can make a down payment on rebuilding SSA and addressing new pandemic-related challenges by providing robust funding for essential SSA services in the Labor, Education, and HHS appropriations bill for 2022,” the recommended.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.