Are You Ready for Social Security Direct Deposit?

January 8, 2013
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Though I am years away from being eligible for Social Security benefits, both of my parents receive Social Security. Chances are some of my Suddenly Frugal readers do, too.

So I just wanted to make sure that all of you are ready for the Social Security direct deposit changes coming in 2013. I would hate for you to miss out on payments. (I first learned about this change by reading “Dear Abby”!)

Not familiar with Social Security direct deposit or don’t know what that means? Here’s the deal: Starting with the March 1, 2013 payment, Social Security will no longer be cutting checks. That’s because of a new electronic payment law that goes into effect. As a Social Security recipient, you have two choices for replacing paper checks: Social Security direct deposit or signing up for the Direct Express Debit MasterCard card.

Here are some details I pulled from a Treasury Department press release:

“Choosing direct deposit or the Direct Express card makes it easier, safer and more convenient for beneficiaries to receive their payments. Switching to an electronic payment is not optional – it’s the law,” said David Lebryk, commissioner of the Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service. “If you or a loved one still receive paper checks for your benefit payments, now is the time to switch. It’s free and easy – just call 1-800-333-1795 or visit www.GoDirect.org.”

The Treasury Department reports that, currently, approximately 93 percent of Social Security payments are made electronically, though there are still some hold outs. The top 10 states that still have recipients receiving paper checks–and where the transition may be the hardest–are the following:

  1. California
  2. New York
  3. Texas
  4. Florida
  5. Ohio
  6. Pennsylvania
  7. North Carolina
  8. Illinois
  9. Michigan
  10. Georgia

Here are some pointers for switching from paper check to Social Security direct deposit or the Direct Express card:

  • By taking a few minutes to gather the necessary information ahead of time, most federal benefit recipients can sign up for electronic payments with one phone call.
  • Individuals will need their Social Security number or claim number, their 12-digital federal benefit check number and the amount of their most recent federal benefit check. If choosing direct deposit, recipients also will need their financial institution’s routing transit number, (often found on a personal check) account number and account type (checking or saving).
  • There are no sign-up fees or monthly fees to receive benefits electronically.

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