Federal benefit payments are going all-electronic
Help consumers to get their payments
The U.S. Department of the Treasury now requires all federal benefit and nontax payments to be paid electronically. People applying for Social Security, VA benefits or other federal benefits on or after May 1, 2011, will receive their payments electronically starting with their first payment. People currently receiving federal benefit checks will need to switch to an electronic payment option by March 1, 2013.
Those who do not choose an electronic payment option at the time they apply for federal benefits or those who do not switch by the deadline will receive their benefit payments via the Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card, so they will not experience any interruption in payment. People who are already receiving benefit payments electronically do not need to take action. They will continue to receive their payment as usual on the payment day.
Having federal benefits paid electronically by direct deposit into the bank or credit union account of one's choice or into a Direct Express® card account is safer, faster and more reliable than receiving paper benefit checks. In 2010, more than 540,000 Treasury-issued checks were reported lost or stolen, and had to be reissued.
With direct deposit, the Treasury Department sends an electronic message to the recipient's bank or credit union account on the usual payment day with the exact amount of the benefit payment from Social Security, VA or other federal agency. People do not have to worry about their money being stolen out of their mailbox, and there is no need to make a trip to cash or deposit a check. Plus, it is better for the environment and saves taxpayer dollars.
The Go Direct® campaign makes it easy for organizations to help senior citizens, people with disabilities, veterans, baby boomers and others get their federal benefits paid electronically. Providers can:
- Display Go Direct® campaign and Direct Express® card materials in their lobby.
- Link to www.GoDirect.org from their website.
- Help people who are about to apply for federal benefits be ready to choose direct deposit or the Direct Express® card at enrollment time and understand what information they should have on-hand when signing up.
- Actively encourage the people they serve who currently get federal benefit checks to make the switch to electronic payments today, so they can beat the last-minute rush to sign up before the deadline.
Consumers can sign up for direct deposit or the Direct Express® card by visiting their local financial institution, signing up online at www.GoDirect.org or calling the U.S. Treasury Processing Center at 1-800-333-1795.
For free materials and information about this new federal rule, please contact Lauren Chernoff, the Ohio campaign representative, at (312) 988-2329.
Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service
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