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Social Security Goes All Electronic

Federal benefits now paid by direct deposit or prepaid debit card

The U.S. Department of the Treasury now requires all federal benefit and nontax payments to be paid electronically.

The reason is simple: security for you. In 2010, more than 540,000 Treasury-issued checks were reported lost or stolen, and had to be reissued. Paying benefits electronically is safer, faster, and more reliable than mailing paper checks.

This information applies to federal government benefits only, such as Social Security or Veterans Administration benefits. If you already receive electronic federal benefit payments, you do not need to take action. You will continue to receive your payment as usual on the payment day.

If you plan to apply for Social Security, Veterans benefits, or other federal benefits on or after May 1, 2011, you will receive payments electronically starting with your first payment. If you already receive federal benefit checks, you have until March 1, 2013 to switch to an electronic payment option.

If you do not choose an electronic payment option at the time you apply for federal benefits, or do not switch by the March 1, 2013, deadline, you will receive your benefit payments via a Direct Express Debit MasterCard card. That means you will not experience any interruption in payment.

What is Direct Express*? It is a Treasury recommended prepaid debit card that provides another safe, low-cost way to get your federal benefit payments. Your money will be posted to your FDIC-insured Direct Express* card account each month, so you can access your money immediately on payment day. You pay no sign-up fees, monthly fees, or overdraft charges (optional service fees may apply).

When you select direct deposit, your money goes straight into your checking or savings account each month, so you can count on it being there on time, every time. Use one of these options to sigh up for direct deposit:

  • Visit your local financial institution
  • Sign up online at www.GoDirect.org
  • Call the U.S. Treasury Processing Center toll-free at (800) 333-1795.

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