Social Security benefits have now ‘gone digital’
Ted Hubert

Walt Henderson, GoDirect campaign director for the Social Security Administration, recently wrote the syndicated “Dear Abby: column with an important message.

Beginning March 1, the Treasury Department is requiring all Social Security, VA, SSI and other federal beneficiaries receive their benefits by electronic deposit.

Senior citizens and other federal beneficiaries may choose either direct deposit or the Treasury-recommended Direct Express Debit MasterCard.

This new payment method is not optional.

Individuals who need assistance in switching to electronic payment can call the Treasury’s secure GoDirect Call Center at 800-333-1795.

The federal government sending direct deposit is not exactly new. This method has been used for at least 35 years. Sending electronic checks is the norm now and not the exception. It is quicker, safer, more convenient and saves taxpayers money.

If you receive or are applying for these federal benefits, you are required by law to receive payments through direct deposit to your bank or credit union account or to a Direct Express Debit MasterCard.

If you are currently receiving your payments by paper check, you are out of compliance and must switch to an electronic payment option.

You can still switch to electronic payments even though the deadline has passed. Contact the U.S. Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Center at (800) 333-1795. You may also sign up for direct deposit online or at your local bank or credit union.

The Direct Express card may be sent to those that have no bank account. The Direct Express Master Card program should call toll free (877)212-9991.

The Treasury-recommended Direct Express card is a prepaid debit card payment option for federal benefit recipients who don’t have a bank or credit union account.

Cardholders can make purchases at stores that accept Debit MasterCard, pay bills, purchase money orders from the U.S. Post Office and get cash from an ATM or financial institution that displays the MasterCard logo.

No bank account or credit check is required to enroll. There are no sign-up fees or monthly account fees. Many other card services are free.

Additional information about the Direct Express card is available at

When you sign up to receive your Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, VA or other federal benefits via the Direct Express card, your money will be automatically deposited to your Direct Express card account on payment date.

Do you receive your paper check in the mail from Uncle Sam? If you answered “Yes” to this question, then take immediate steps to change the fund transfer. It is never good to be out of compliance with the law.

What happens to the paper checks that are mailed? Will these checks be discontinued?

Here is some good news. Even, if you are out of compliance, the checks will continue. The government will not keep the checks from you. But, you are encouraged to get in compliance.

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2013-03-07 digital edition

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