Key Independent Executive Branch Agencies

The executive branch of the federal government includes its major operating units such as the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education. However, many other agencies also have public responsibilities for government operations such as NASA, the CIA and the Social Security Administration. Executive branch independent agencies are part of the executive branch, but not part of a specific executive department. The heads of independent agencies are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the President. 


Access Board

Created in 1973 to ensure access to federally funded facilities, the Access Board is now a leading source of information on accessible design. The Board develops and maintains design criteria for the built environment, transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment, and for electronic and information technology. It is structured to function as a coordinating body among Federal agencies and to represent the public, particularly people with disabilities.  Half of its members are representatives from most Federal departments; the other half are public members appointed by the President, a majority of whom must have a disability.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The EEOC enforces the Federal laws that prohibit job discrimination and provides oversight and coordination of all federal equal employment opportunity regulations, practices and policies.

Federal laws that prohibit job discrimination include two that cover individuals with disabilities: Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Title I and Title V, prohibiting employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector and in state and local governments and Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, prohibiting discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who work in the federal government.  


National Council on Disability

NCD is comprised of 15 members appointed by the President for a term of three years, by and with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate. It provides advice to the President, Congress, and executive branch agencies to promote policies, programs, practices, and procedures that guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability and to empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society.  The NCD is authorized by Title IV of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.


Social Security Administration (SSA)
SSA administers the Social Security disability programs (including the Disability Insurance (SSDI) program of Title II) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI or Title XVI) program that both provide benefits to qualifying individuals. 

In 1995, Congress made SSA an independent agency, separate from the Department of Health and Human Services where it was previously a component. As a result of its independent status, Presidents can appoint Commissioners to six-year terms, removable only on grounds of wrongdoing. In the past, Commissioners were political appointees whose terms lasted as long as their White House patrons. SSA is also allowed to take budget requests directly to Congress rather than through the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at the White House.

Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR): responsible for cases on appeal, including very large agency backlog

Office of Retirement and Disability Policy (ORDP):  includes Office of Disability Programs (ODP) that develops regulations regarding medical listings and Office of Employment Support Programs (OESP) that addresses work incentive and Ticket to Work issues