Black named SSA deputy commissioner
A 1987 Rugby High School graduate was sworn in last week as deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration.
David Black, who grew up on a farm outside of Berwick, will also serve as the secretary to the Social Security Board of Trustees, according to a news release from the Social Security National Press Office.
“David is a dedicated public servant who brings a wealth of knowledge to this position,” said Andrew Saul, commissioner of Social Security in the news release.
Black, in an email, told the Tribune about the path that took him from the Rugby area to Washington, D.C.
“I got my undergraduate degree from the University of North Dakota in 1990 and then enlisted in the Army, where I trained as a Russian linguist at the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, California. I graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1996 and went on active duty in the Army four years as a captain in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, where I was stationed in San Antonio, Texas. I remain a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve,” Black wrote.
Black said he also practiced labor and employment law and civil rights law in North Carolina and South Carolina.
President George W. Bush appointed Black deputy assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in 2004.
“That career shift led to the opportunity to become the general counsel for the Social Security Administration,” Black noted.
Black said he took the post in part because of an answer former Social Security Administration Commissioner Mike Astrue gave to a question he asked.
“I asked him what he is looking for in his lead attorney and he answered in one word: Integrity. That resonated with my values,” Black said.
Black continued his service as general counsel to the Social Security Administration during most of President Barack Obama’s terms in office, leaving for a brief time to be with his pregnant wife, who was stationed in the Air Force overseas. “Shortly after we returned to the U.S.,” Black said, “I was asked to lead the SSA transition team for the president.”
“Subsequently,” he added, “(President Donald Trump) nominated me to serve as the deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration, and I was recently confirmed.”
Black said he still visits the Rugby area where his mother, Marie, “still lives on the family farm. I am one of 12 children, most of whom are still in North Dakota.”
“Going ‘home’ is therapeutic for me and I try to get there every spring and fall. The next trip is always on my mind because I look forward to seeing my mom – who is phenomenal – catching up with my brothers and sisters, and watching my three children experience farm life,” Black said. “I have three children: Olivia (4), Grace (2) and William (6 months).”
Black said his duties as deputy commissioner cover “all aspects of the agency.”
“SSA administers the Social Security retirement, disability and survivors insurance programs that pay over one trillion dollars annually in benefits to about 64 million beneficiaries, as well as the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program that provides cash assistance to more than eight million people with limited income and resources. We have a workforce of about 63,000 employees who work in about 1,500 facilities across the country and around the world. Those are staggering numbers but what I do really comes down to the individual people we serve. When I make decisions, it’s the public I have foremost in mind.”
As for the future of Social Security, Black said, “While there may not be easy answers, there is bipartisan agreement about the importance of our programs. I am confident the country will find a way to ensure we continue to help the most vulnerable members of our communities and add to the nation’s financial stability.”
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