Beginning March 1, 2013, Social Security recipients must elect to receive electronic benefits payments if they have not already done so. New recipients have been required to choose electronic deposits for nearly 2 years already, but those still receiving paper checks (about 7% of current recipients) will now have to switch by the end of this month.
Why require direct deposit?
- Safety – paper checks are prone to theft, loss and other problems. GoDirect, the government website set up to assist those in the transition, claims that 90% of the problems that can arise with a SS payment result from paper check payments.
- Ease – The millions of Americans that already use direct deposit to receive income can attest that direct deposit is certainly less work than handling and depositing paper checks each month.
- Cost – The U.S. Treasury has reported that moving to direct deposit will save the government $1 billion over 10 years.
Ready to sign up?
Visit GoDirect.gov to enroll. You’ll need to enter a check number from a prior social security check or a claim number, the amount of your most recent benefit, your bank or credit union routing number and your personal bank account number (the last two can be found on your personal checks).
Don’t have a bank account?
The U.S. Department of the Treasure offers two options for social security recipients without a bank account:
- Direct Express Card – a prepaid MasterCard debit card recommended by the Treasury. For no monthly fee (unlike many other prepaid cards), your benefits are deposited automatically to the card, which can be used to make purchases or withdraw cash from an ATM. Your deposits are also federally insured by the FDIC.
- Open an Electronic Transfer Account – ETAs are available at nearly 400 banks nationwide. They are a low-cost account designed specifically for Americans receiving some sort of federal government benefit payment (including Social Security).
Missed the deadline?
Rest assured, your payment won’t be cut off. The U.S. Social Security Administration states that those who fail to switch to electronic deposits by March 1 will continue to receive checks, however the Treasury Department will be in contact with recipients and work directly to help them comply.