Kenneth S. Apfel was nominated on May 23, 1997 by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate on September 19, 1997 as the Commissioner of the United States Social Security Administration (SSA). Mr. Apfel has the honor of becoming the first confirmed Commissioner of Social Security since it became an independent agency in April of 1995. He brings a lifetime of leadership and public service experience to a position that has been frequently described as one of the most complex and challenging in the federal government. He heads an agency that delivers benefits each month to more than fifty million people. He is responsible for the actions of approximately 65,000 employees who, among other responsibilities, serve the needs of twenty-six million visitors each year to SSA’s 1,300 field offices and answer almost sixty-four million phone calls annually on the agency’s toll-free telephone lines.
Kenneth S. Apfel came to SSA from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the Executive Office of the President where he served since 1995 as the Associate Director for Human Resources. His responsibilities included budget, policy and management review of all the human resource agencies of the Federal government, including the SSA, the Departments of Labor and Education and parts of the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.
Prior to his appointment at OMB, Mr. Apfel served as Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He was nominated by President Clinton in March 1993 and was subsequently confirmed by the U.S. Senate. In this capacity, Mr. Apfel served as the senior budget official and chief financial officer for HHS. He formulated and executed the third largest budget in the world — a $700 billion budget for a department staffed nationwide by 125,000 people, with half of HHS’ resources in support of SSA. During his tenure, Mr. Apfel served as a principal on the Secretary’s task force to elevate SSA to independent agency status.
Before joining the Clinton Administration, Mr. Apfel worked for two decades in the area of social policy. From 1989-1993, he served as legislative director to Senator Bill Bradley, overseeing the formulation and development of all aspects of congressional policy making. During 1982-1989, he was the Senator’s chief staff person for Federal social policy, with a particular focus on programs under the jurisdiction of the Senate Finance Committee. He served as the Senator’s key staff person for the Committee’s actions on the historic 1983 Social Security reform legislation.
Between 1980 -1982, Mr. Apfel was committee staff for human resource programs for the U. S. Senate Budget Committee. From 1978-1980, he served a Presidential Management Internship at the U. S. Department of Labor. He was a college administrator from 1973-1976 at Newbury College in Massachusetts, coordinating a grant from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to provide outreach and remediation to veterans.
Kenneth S. Apfel was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, October 12, 1948. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1970; a master’s in rehabilitation counseling, Northeastern University, 1973; and a master’s degree in public affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas, 1978.
Mr. Apfel is married to Caroline Hadley and has two sons, Derek and Dana.