Social Security Introduces New Director for the Office of Native American Partnerships

February 13, 2023 • By

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Last Updated: February 13, 2023

Social Security Administration LogoActing Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi appointed Richard Litsey as the Director for the Office of Native American Partnerships, the new Social Security Administration tribal office within the Office of the Commissioner. This office serves to elevate and centralize efforts to administer comprehensive programs and policies related to American Indians and Alaska Natives. It will enhance the agency’s relationship with Tribes and serve as the primary point of contact on Tribal affairs for all stakeholders.

“I am very pleased to welcome Richard Litsey as the first Director of our new office. Richard brings a wealth of experience advising federal agencies on ways to improve public programs and services for American Indians and Alaska Natives,” Acting Commissioner Kijakazi said. “Our Office of Native American Partnerships provides Tribal communities more representation and strengthens our commitment to reducing barriers to ensure people who are eligible for our benefits receive them.”

“I am thrilled to lead the new Office of Native American Partnerships, which will further develop and maintain a strong presence with Tribes nationwide to ensure effective delivery of our services to retirees, people with disabilities, and elder populations,” commented Richard Litsey. “The office serves as the agency’s primary point of contact for external and internal stakeholders on Tribal affairs.”

The Office of Native American Partnerships is responsible for many functions to assist Tribal communities throughout the country. It seeks to improve services to communities by engaging in meaningful national and regional policy consultations, roundtable discussions, and seminars with Tribal and Federal experts. It also coordinates internal agency Native American efforts, increases external program awareness to the Tribal community, helps to recruit a diverse candidate pool for hiring at all levels of Social Security, and serves as the primary point of contact for Tribal Government Offices to foster transparency and collaboration. Additionally, the office will conduct ongoing data collection and analysis to improve outreach to Tribal communities.

The Office of Native American Partnerships supports President Biden’s 2021 Executive Order (EO) 13985: Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities, as well as other federal guidance on coordination and collaboration with Tribal Governments.

Mr. Litsey previously worked for the National Indian Health Board as the Director of Policy and Advocacy, the U.S. Senate as Counsel & Senior Advisor for Indian Affairs, Committee on Finance, and the Social Security Administration as a Hearing Office Director and Senior Attorney. He is an enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and a member of the Federal Bar Association, Capitol Hill Chapter.

To learn more, please visit American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN) | SSA.

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  1. Jenny B.

    It is just another office like the office of civil rights who does nothing except sit on their hands.

    Try PCSO Lotto

  2. Linda S.

    People re-read the article it says American Indian and Alaska Natives!

  3. Judith K.

    I found this article very interesting and was wondering if “native” also referred to the native islanders in the Pacific and Caribbean?

  4. Beverly M.

    Since this a new program is here I am going to ask for your opinion. i was a fed employee an injured on the job. My court date is 3-14-23 with owcp I need someone to be with me. I have requested my local BIA in Muskogee’s Tribal Affairs. Is the the right way to get a fed worker to help me with the understanding of Federal Government’s concept of of justice or with the cans or can not’s

  5. Aimee

    I wonder if there should be changes to regs for acceptable id’s that can be used for verification of identity for social security and replacement card. My granddaughter is alaska native and has tried to get a replacement ss card. She doesnt have any state id’ as she doesnt drive and state ids require an actual ss card.
    She has a Indian Reserve Official ID which will be accepted to fly by any airline but ss will not accept it as valid. It has a license information. Maybe that is something to work on.

  6. Armyof1

    I was born in CT, raised in NY, am I native born?

    • Brett G.

      That’s an interesting question. I was born in San Francisco, CA, and now live in NY, but my ancestors were brought over as slaves from Africa. So, I don’t consider myself native to America.

      To your question, I wonder if the definition of what it means to be Native American relies on where our ancestors are from; at least for the purposes of this office? It would seem to me that it does.

      Thus, if our ancestors are not native to this land, I don’t think we would qualify as Native Americans for the purposes of this office.

    • Beverly M.

      Congratulations, and I must say this New Program is much over due. I too am Native born in Oklahoma. Natives we do have different ways that our brothers and sisters of other ethnics do not understand. It sometimes can not be explained we speak with our minds an with hand jesters. I do have an issue with individuals that take each other as man an wife but with no license. A marriage license is something that is controversial in our Native ways.

      • Sarah C.

        Beverley, I am very interested in your comment concerning marriage licenses. Is this a concern of all tribes in America? I have heritage with the Senaca Tribe. Thank you for the comment!

      • Sonic e.

        “A marriage license is something that is controversial in our Native ways.” It is not an important issue to discuss. Many countries are very free and it’s not a big deal.

  7. MajJohn

    If all Americans were treated with the same dignity and respect there’d be no need for special offices, events, and holidays. Setting aside special days and offices for certain groups of people does nothing for unity, it only divides and separates us.

    • Thellma

      The “if only” preface of this comment actually explains the need for this office and others of similar goals – because the status quo of neglect and discrimination is unacceptable to the ideals of our nation.

      • Brett G.

        I had the same thoughts as you, Thellma.

    • Beverly M.

      By george I think you may right

    • Tony

      It is just another office like the office of civil rights who does nothing except sit on their hands.

      Taxpayers are paying more money for the same service. Now we have to pay two office directors salaries and additional staffs salaries.

    • Sarah C.

      MajJohn, I, too, have felt this way. During my teaching career, I always regretted having to take class time in February to prepare special Ethnic lessons for high school students. Many felt offended, some felt embarrassed, and often verbal conflict arose. Having a Senaca tribe member for a GGGrandfather made my talking with them somewhat easier. Relearning is never easy. Thank you for your intuitive comment.

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