What is direct deposit?

Direct deposit delivers your Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit into your bank, savings and loan or credit union's account quickly and safely. The U.S. Treasury sends an electronic message to your bank, savings and loan or credit union crediting your account with the exact amount of your Social Security or SSI benefit. You can withdraw money, put some in savings or pay bills-the things you do with your money now. The difference is, your check isn't printed or mailed.

Do I have to receive my benefits electronically?

Yes.  Effective May 1, 2011, applicants filing for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit payments must choose either direct deposit or the Direct Express® debit card. Currently entitled beneficiaries and recipients receiving payment by check will have until March 1, 2013 to switch to direct deposit or the Direct Express® debit card.  As of March 2011, 85 percent of all Social Security and SSI beneficiaries received their benefits by direct deposit. For more information, please visit the Department of the Treasury’s Go Direct® website http://www.godirect.org

I'm interested in receiving my benefits electronically. What should I do?

Here are three options:

  • If you have an account, go to your bank, savings and loan or credit union. They can answer your questions about direct deposit. If you don't have an account, consider opening one and sign up for direct deposit at that time. Most banks, savings and loans and credit unions offer a variety of accounts, some with little or no fees. Look for one that meets your needs.
  • You can enroll in the Direct Express® Debit Card.  It is a great alternative you can use to access your benefits.  And you do not need a bank account.
  • Consider opening a low-cost Electronic Transfer Account (ETA). This account costs no more than $3.00 per month, and you get at least four free cash withdrawals per month.

What are the benefits of using electronic payments?

The benefits of using electronic payments are:

  • There are no checks to be lost or stolen.
  • You'll get your benefits on time, even if you're out of town, sick or unable to get to the bank.
  • Both you and your money are safe.

Where do I sign up for electronic payments?

If you already have a checking or savings account, ask at your bank where you have an account. They'll be glad to help you. Be sure to take your bank statement or personal check, and your Social Security number when you go to sign up.

Or, you can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). We'll need to determine your identity by asking you a few questions. We'll also need your banking information and your Social Security number.

The Direct Express® card is a debit card you can use to access your benefits. And you don't need a bank account. You can use your card for free. There is no sign-up fee and no monthly account fee. Most of the services are provided free of charge. It’s quick and easy to sign up for the card. Call the toll-free Direct Express® hotline at 1-877-212-9991.

If you don't have an account, most banks offer a variety of accounts, some with little or no fees. Some financial institutions offer low-cost Electronic Transfer Accounts (ETA) that feature a maximum cost of $3.00 per month and at least four cash withdrawals per month. Look for one that meets your needs. You can also call Social Security's toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

When I sign up for direct deposit, how long does it take before my money is in my account?

When you sign up for direct deposit, you can expect your benefit in your account within 30 to 60 days. We'll send you a letter telling you when to expect your benefit to be in your bank account.

How do I know when my money is in my account so I can pay my bills?

Your money is deposited on the day you're scheduled to receive your benefit. For example, if you usually receive your benefit on the third of the month, your money is available to you at the opening of the business day on the third. You can check with your bank to be sure that your money is in your account.

When can I use my money?

Your money is available for use as soon as the bank deposits it into your account. You can write checks, pay bills, withdraw money or put some into savings. Anything you usually do with your money now, you can also do with direct deposit.

If I get SSI benefits by direct deposit, how do I get proof of my benefit amount so I can apply for the energy assistance program?

If you are a Social Security or SSI beneficiary using direct deposit, you'll receive a notice in December showing your benefit amount that includes any annual cost-of-living increase that may go into effect in January. You can use this notice when you need proof of your benefit amount for the energy assistance program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), rent subsidies, bank loans or other business. If you don't receive your benefit by direct deposit, call Social Security's toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778),for proof of your benefit amount.

After I sign up for direct deposit, do I have to stay with the same bank?

No, you can use direct deposit at any federally insured bank, savings and loan or credit union. If you move your account, call Social Security's toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), and a Social Security representative will change your direct deposit information. Open the new account and make sure your deposits are going to the new bank, savings and loan or credit union before you close the old account.

I'm a representative payee for someone who receives Social Security or SSI benefits? Can I use electronic payments?

Yes, as a representative payee, you can use electronic payments to receive the Social Security or SSI benefits for someone in your care. The safety and convenience of electronic payments can work for you.

I realize electronic payments will be more convenient for me, but what are the benefits to the government?

In addition to being safe and convenient for beneficiaries, electronic payments are more efficient and cost effective for the government because they cost less than preparing and mailing monthly checks. In addition, the government doesn't have to pay to replace checks that are lost, stolen or missing.

Direct Deposit - Simple, Safe, Secure
Direct Express

If you would like to learn more about Direct Express view Treasury's You Tube Video at http://www.youtube.com/GoDirectUSTreasGov (DISCLAIMER)