As of May 1, 2013, the Department of the Treasury will eliminate the need for paper checks and discontinue mailing federal benefit and non-tax payments to citizens, instead, switch over to electronic payments, e.g. direct deposit.
After seeking public comment on the proposed rule issued in June 2010, federal regulations were changed to generally require all federal benefits including Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, Office of Personnel Management benefits and other non-tax payments to be made electronically. Benefit recipients have the option of direct deposit into a bank or credit union account of their choice or into a Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card account.
So what exactly 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.
Is this the first time you’re learning about this? Hopefully not.
The Treasury has launched a public education campaign to inform Americans about the rule change and to help them understand what they need to do to get their payments electronically, whether they already receive payments by check or will be applying for federal benefits for the first time soon. Current check recipients will receive information enclosed with their payments, and the national campaign will also include public service announcements, a newly redesigned website, www.GoDirect.org, ongoing financial literacy programming and partnerships with hundreds of national, regional and local organizations.
Make sure you don’t wait until the last-minute to sign up for direct deposit. For more information about how you can switch from checks to direct deposit, visit www.GoDirect.org, or call the U.S. Treasury Processing Center’s toll-free helpline at 1 (800) 333-1795, or speak with a bank or credit union representative.