Social Security Checks Will Be 100% Electronic By 2013 - Senior Alert Medical

Social Security Checks Will Be 100% Electronic By 2013

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U.S. Treasury extends direct deposit to millions of Americans, phasing out paper checks for federal benefit payments

The U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a rule to extend the safety and convenience of electronic payments to all Americans receiving federal benefit and non-tax payments.

Anyone applying for benefits on or after May 1, 2011, will receive their payments electronically, while those already receiving paper checks will need to switch to direct deposit by March 1, 2013.

Electronic payments for all

“Eight in 10 federal benefit recipients already use direct deposit, and now millions of additional retirees, veterans and other Americans will also receive their money in the safest, most reliable way – electronically,” says Treasury Fiscal Assistant Secretary Richard L. Gregg. “This important change will provide significant savings to American taxpayers who will no longer incur the annual $120 million price tag associated with paper checks and will save Social Security $1 billion over the next 10 years.”

All Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, Office of Personnel Management benefits and other non-tax payments will 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 (R) Debit MasterCard (R) card account. More than 1.5 million beneficiaries have signed up for the Direct Express (R) card – a prepaid debit card product issued by Comerica Bank, the Treasury Department’s financial agent. The Treasury Department introduced the card in 2008.

Timeline for new enrollees

People newly applying for federal benefits on or after May 1, 2011, must choose an electronic payment option at the time they sign up for their benefits. If they wish to direct their money into a bank or credit union account, they will want to have the following information on hand at the time they apply for their benefits:

  • Financial institution’s routing transit number (often found on personal check)
  • Account type – checking or saving
  • Account number (often found on personal check)

People who do not have an account at a financial institution or prefer receiving their payments on a prepaid debit card can receive a Direct Express (R) card. For more information, visit

Switching to electronic payments is easy

“I urge everyone receiving a paper Social Security or Supplemental Security Income check to switch to electronic payments now, through the Go Direct campaign, rather than waiting until the final deadline,” says Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. “Switching now eliminates the risks of lost and stolen checks, and provides immediate access to your money on payment day.”

Check recipients must switch to electronic payments before the March 1, 2013 deadline. Switching from checks to direct deposit is fast, easy and free at,  by calling the U.S. Treasury Processing Center’s toll-free helpline at 1-800-333-1795, or by speaking with their bank or credit union representative.

Anyone already receiving federal benefit payments electronically will continue to receive their money as usual on their payment day. No action is required.

Electronic banking for deposits and withdrawals are easy and convenient.  It gives caregivers and seniors alike a sense of security knowing that money is deposited and payments are made on time.  Many Medical Home Alert customers have their payments withdrawn directly from their checking account for their medical alert systems.

The federal government has several “green” initiatives that involve using electronic payables and computers to save time, money and the environment.  For example, part of the federal stimulus money is earmarked for subsidizing electronic medical records systems for doctors and hospitals.

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