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All SSI, SSDI Payments Will Be Made Electronically Starting in March

Posted on Nov 19, 2012

Starting in March 2013, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will no longer issue paper checks to most recipients of benefits. The new rules, set by the Treasury Department, not SSA, will apply to essentially everyone who receives Social Security, SSI, or SSDI benefits.

Eighty-three percent of those who get disability and other supplemental payments already receive their funds electronically. Since May 2011, all new Social Security recipients have had to sign up for direct deposit. In March, the rules will change to include anyone born on or after May 1, 1921, with very few exceptions.

Several million individuals will need to convert from paper to electronic payments before the rules change in March. If you are one of these people, it might seem like a big deal, but switching to electronic payment is fairly simple.

You can sign up for direct deposit in person, by telephone, or online.

  • To apply in person, you will need to go to your local SSA office and fill out a form.
  • To apply by telephone, call 1-800-772-1213.
  • To apply online, visit http://www.ssa.gov/deposit/. You will need to set up set up an online account with a password. You can do that here.

You can sign up to have your money deposited directly to your bank account, to a U.S. Treasury Direct Express debit card, or to a fee-based electronic transfer account (ETA):

1.      Your own bank account: Let your bank know that you would like to set up direct deposit. Someone at your bank will be able to help you make the necessary arrangements.

2.      Direct Express MasterCard debit card: These cards are used like virtually any other debit card. They can be used at any retail store that accepts credit cards. If you need cash, you will need to use a bank or ATM. The first ATM withdrawal each month is free as long as you use a designated surcharge-free ATM; after that, there is a fee for additional withdrawals.

3.      Electronic transfer account: An ETA is a federally insured account at a bank, credit union, or savings and loan institution that allows you to receive your federal payments. ETAs are created for people who don’t have or don’t qualify for a regular bank checking or savings account. You can withdraw money from an ETA, but you cannot write checks on the account. There are fees, and there could be minimum balance requirements.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law