Treasury has delivered federal benefit payments electronically for over 35 years and now requires that all beneficiaries choose an electronic payment option to receive their benefits. Electronic payments have become almost universally accepted and are standard across all sectors of the economy. In addition, electronic payments have become the norm rather than the exception of how people expect to receive their payments.
The Treasury Department published a final rule in December 2010 to gradually phase out paper checks for federal benefit payments. Treasury has worked to become more efficient and trim its budget, and the switch to all-electronic payments will save Treasury and American taxpayers $1 billion over 10 years.As of March 1, 2013, 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® card:
If you are currently receiving your payments by paper check, you are out of compliance and must switch to an electronic payment option. If you are receiving a payment on behalf of someone else (Representative Payee), please see Does this rule apply to representative payees or to people who live in nursing homes?
In addition, there are many advantages to switching to electronic payments.
Electronic payments, which allow for the exchange of funds through paperless methods, are safer, easier and more reliable than paper checks.
Direct deposit is the electronic transfer of a payment from a company or organization into an individual's checking or savings account. When you get your federal benefit payment electronically, the U.S. Department of the Treasury sends an electronic message to your bank or credit union or Direct Express® Debit Mastercard® card account crediting your account with the exact amount of your benefit. The difference is, your check isn't printed or mailed. The government and businesses use direct deposit to transfer millions of dollars every day. Your money is safe with direct deposit. To learn more about direct deposit, you can talk to your local bank or credit union. With direct deposit, your money goes straight into your account at the same time each month, thus giving you more control over your money. It eliminates the risk of stolen checks and forged signatures and helps protect you from identity theft. Direct deposit also provides immediate access to your money from virtually anywhere.
Yes. Although the Treasury Department's deadline to comply with the all-electronic payment requirement has passed, people who receive paper federal benefit checks can still comply with the law and switch to an electronic payment option.
People can sign up for direct deposit or the Direct Express® Debit Mastercard® card by contacting 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.
Yes. The Direct Express® Debit Mastercard® card is a safe, no or low-cost electronic alternative. No bank or credit union account or credit check is required to enroll. 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 Direct Express®, 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 www.USDirectExpress.com.
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.
The Treasury Department will grant exceptions to the rule only in rare circumstances.
Check recipients living in remote areas without sufficient banking infrastructure may apply for a waiver, as well as check recipients for whom electronic payments would impose a hardship due to a mental impairment. Automatic waivers are granted to people born on or before May 1, 1921, and people who qualify for this waiver do not need to submit an application.
For more information or to request a waiver, call 855-290-1545. You may also print and fill out a waiver form and return it to the address on the form.Waiver Form
The Treasury Department has no plans to interrupt the payment of federal benefits and at this time, check payments will continue after the March 1, 2013, deadline. However, people who have not signed up by March 1, 2013, are out of compliance with the law. The Treasury will continue to contact check recipients who are not in compliance with the law and may send beneficiaries a Direct Express® card.
If you care for someone who gets federal benefit payments by paper check or if you receive a check on behalf of someone else, the U.S. Department of the Treasury requires that these payments be switched to an electronic option.
Representative payees can sign up for direct deposit or the Direct Express® Debit Mastercard® card by calling the U.S. Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Center at (800) 333-1795 Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. For direct deposit, recipients can also switch online at www.GoDirect.gov or at their bank or credit union. Representative payees should also be aware of the following:
An organization can submit its question to EFTmail@fiscal.treasury.gov.
You can use Go Direct® only if you currently receive your Federal benefit payments by check and you want to begin receiving your benefits by Direct Deposit instead.
If you are already receiving your Federal benefit payment by Direct Deposit, and would like to have your payments sent to a new or different account, you should call the Federal agency that pays your benefits.
Visit our page about changing your existing direct deposit.
Please deposit or cash your federal benefit check as you normally would. Direct deposit can take 1 to 2 payment cycles to take effect. You may receive one or more paper checks before the direct deposit takes effect.
Direct deposit can take 1 to 2 payment cycles to take effect. Please deposit or cash your federal benefit check as you always have. If however, you receive your federal benefit check by mail next month, please call the U.S. Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Center Mon - Fri 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET(excluding federal holidays):(877) 874-6347.
Is this an international address?
SSA recipients check here to denote this is an international address if you live outside of the U.S., Puerto Rico, or a U.S. Territory.
NOTICE: Go Direct can only enroll payments with International addresses for recipients of Social Security benefits. If you receive any other benefit payment type and reside internationally, or do not have an account with a U.S. bank or credit union, you may not enroll online through Go Direct. For more information on how to complete your international enrollment please click here. More information...
If you live outside the United States but do not have an account with a U.S. bank or credit union you may write the Social Security Administration at: Social Security Administration Office of International Operations P.O. Box 17775 Baltimore, Maryland 21235-7775 for more information on international payment options. Or visit them online at:
If you live outside the United States and want to sign up for direct deposit please contact the VA at: http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/foreign/forfaq.htm
Retirees, annuitants, and survivor annuitants already receiving benefits, but living outside the United States that want to sign up for direct deposit please contact the Office of Personnel Management (Civil Service) by calling1 (888) 767-6738.
Recipients already receiving Railroad Retirement (RRB) benefits, but living outside the United States that want to sign up for direct deposit please contact the nearest Railroad Retirement Board office or call the Railroad Retirement Board at 1-877-772-5772. For instructions on International Direct Deposits visit RRB online at:
A toll-free number has been designated for each of the nine Division of Coal Mine Workers' Compensation district offices. Visit the Department of Labor web site. For a list of district offices and their phone numbers.
Check this option if you represent a corporation which is acting as a representative payee.
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