In the past, Social Security beneficiaries had the option to receive a monthly benefit check in the mail. In the near future, that option will no longer be available and anyone who gets Social Security of any kind, including disability benefits, will receive their benefit payments electronically. Payment will be processed either through direct deposit to a personal account or through Direct Express, an electronic card program similar to the debit card programs that are currently used in many states for processing child support payments, unemployment benefits, and even SNAP (formerly food stamps).
When is the Change Scheduled to Occur?
Anyone who becomes newly eligible for Social Security of any kind on or after May 1st of this year will be required to set up the appropriate information to receive their payments electronically. Those who already receive Social Security benefits and who have not yet set up direct deposit will be required to do so before March 1, 2013. Any Social Security recipients who have not set up direct deposit by that date will begin receiving their payments via the Direct Express card program in order to prevent any delays in payment processing.
Why is the Change Happening?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that more than 85% of people who currently receive Social Security benefits already have their monthly payments delivered through direct deposit. Making electronic transfer of funds a mandatory part of the benefit process allows the SSA to cut down on expenses associated with printing, processing, and mailing checks. It also allows for the reduction in administrative expenses associated with labor and with addressing problems with missing, lost, or stolen benefit checks. Essentially, the change is taking place in an effort to streamline processes and reduce costs.
What is the Process for Making the Change to Direct Deposit?
If you are among the Social Security Disability recipients who does not have direct deposit set up for your monthly benefit checks, you have some time still to make the adjustment. There are several ways in which to set up direct deposit for your Social Security Disability checks.
- You can go to your bank or credit union and set up direct deposit through them. You’ll need to take your checking or savings account information, your ID, and your Social Security Card with you in order for a banking representative to help you set up the direct deposit information.
- You can call the SSA for assistance, though they will need to send you a form to complete and mail back.
- The Direct Deposit Sign Up Form is also available at your local Social Security office.
- You may also print the Direct Deposit Sign Up Form from the SSA website and mail it to, or drop it off, at the SSA office.
- You can create an account with the SSA’s website and sign up for direct deposit online.
What are the Direct Deposit Options?
Most people choose to receive their Social Security benefit payments through direct deposit to a personal checking or savings account, but there are other options available for those who don’t have a bank account or prefer using another method.
The Direct Express Debit Card system is an alternative to having direct deposit set up with a bank or other financial institution. The debit card will come directly from the SSA and works like any other debit card, meaning it can be used to make purchases from merchants, pay bills over the phone or electronically, and to withdraw cash from ATMs. Each month, on your scheduled payment date, your Social Security benefits will be made available on the card.
Those who do not have a bank account and don’t want to participate in the Direct Express program can open an Electronic Transfer Account (ETA). An ETA costs about $3.00 a month and allows account holders to make four cash withdraws per month before beginning to incur fees.