Do I Have to Sign Up for Direct Deposit to Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?
If you filed a claim for disability benefits on or after May 1, 2011, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires that you receive your monthly disability payments electronically. This is true regardless of whether you are receiving payments through Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
If you have already been receiving disability but not electronically (that is, you have been receiving disability checks through the mail), you are required to sign up for direct deposit or Direct Express® by March 1, 2013.
What is the Direct Express® Program?
The Direct Express® card is like a debit card that you can use to access your funds, but you don’t need a bank account. The SSA adds your monthly disability payments to the card on the day you are scheduled to receive your benefits and you can use the card any place that accepts MasterCard, just as you would a regular debit card. You can also use your Direct Express® card to get cash.
If you prefer to sign up for Direct Express® rather than have an electronic payment into your bank account, you can call Direct Express® at 800-333-1795. You can sign up for free and there is no monthly charge.
Where Can I Sign Up For Direct Deposit?
You can also set up direct deposit at your bank or credit union, or you can sign up on the SSA’s website or by calling the SSA at 800-772-1213. You can also make changes to your direct deposit on the SSA's website or by phone.
If you haven’t already applied for disability benefits, when you do apply, make sure you bring a bank statement or checkbook with you and let the SSA representative know that you would like to sign up for direct deposit.
What’s an Electronic Transfer Account?
If you don’t already have a bank account, some banks offer what is called an Electronic Transfer Account (ETA). ETAs were started by the federal government to make sure people who receive certain federal payments have a place to get their payments deposited directly. There are certain guidelines an ETA must follow, which include charging a fee of no more than $3.00 per month and allowing at least four cash withdrawals a month. Some banks have ETAs that allow you to withdraw money from an ATM. For more information, speak to a bank or credit union that offers ETAs, as they may differ.
What Are the Benefits of Electronic Payments?
Here are some reasons to stop receiving paper checks in the mail.
- With direct deposit or Direct Express®, you don’t have to worry about a check being lost or stolen in the mail.
- Your payments are automatically put into your bank account or onto your Direct Express® card.
- You won’t have to stand in line to cash your check or pay any check-cashing fees.
- Your benefits will be available to you on the start of the business day you are scheduled to receive payment.
Can a Representative Payee Use Electronic Payments?
If you are receiving disability benefits for someone else as a representative payee, you can also receive the benefits electronically, just the like primary beneficiary.
Learn more about getting disability benefits.