The U.S. Treasury Department has announced a major change in the way benefits will be distributed to millions of recipients in the United States. Beginning March 1, 2013, all federal benefits payments will be made by direct deposit to a bank or credit union account, or to a Direct Express® Debit MasterCard®. This change applies to Social Security payments, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Administration payments, and all other federal payments that may now come in the form of paper checks.
If you or someone you know currently receives paper checks for federal benefits, please review the following Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I have to receive my benefits electronically?
Yes. Everyone must switch by March 1, 2013. If you have not yet applied for federal benefits, when you do apply, you must receive the funds electronically. That requirement began for new recipients on May 1, 2011. (If you already receive your benefits via direct deposit, this change will not affect you.)
How do I make the switch?
There are two options for recipients:
- The first, and most popular, option is direct deposit into your existing account at your bank or credit union.
- If you do not have a bank account or do not wish your funds to be deposited into your bank, the government will create an account linked to a Direct Express debit card that will be mailed to you.
What is direct deposit?
Direct deposit delivers the exact amount of your benefit directly into your account by sending an electronic funds transfer to your bank or credit union. The difference is, your check isn’t printed or mailed.
How do I sign up for direct deposit?
- To begin the process of making the switch, you may visit a government website set up specifically for this purpose: www.godirect.org. To start the process of switching online, you will need the routing number for your bank and your bank account number. You’ll also need the claim number or check number of your last benefit check.
- Social Security recipients may also visit their bank for assistance in setting up direct deposit.*
What is the Direct Express card?
- It is a debit card that can be used to access cash at ATMs. It can also be used for purchases at any location that accepts Mastercard debit cards.
- Your funds will be available the same time as if you had direct deposit and will continue this way unless you sign up for direct deposit with your bank.
- For more information or to begin the process, call the toll-free Direct Express hotline at 1-877-212-9991 or sign up online at www.USDirectExpress.com.
What are the benefits with these new requirements?
According to the godirect website, direct deposits to a bank or credit union account or to a Direct Express debit card are safe, easy ways to get federal benefit payments:
- They eliminate the risk of stolen checks, which helps protect people from financial crime.
- Direct deposit and the Direct Expresscard give people immediate access to their funds from virtually anywhere.
- People without bank accounts may currently have to pay a fee to cash their benefit checks. Using the Direct Express card can help avoid these fees.
- Problems with electronic payments are fewer, and easier to track and resolve, than problems with mailed checks.
- Besides saving paper, which helps the environment, switching to electronic payments is estimated to save taxpayers about $120 million.
*Nevada State Bank has more than 50 branches throughout Nevada. For your nearest location, visit www.nsbank.com/locations.
The information contained herein may not represent the views and opinions of Nevada State Bank or its affiliates. It is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.
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