SSDI Benefits Payment Options
In the past, most people received their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits as a check that came in the mail. Those days are over. Today, most people receive their SSDI benefits by direct deposit into a bank or credit union account. Soon the government will require everyone who gets Social Security benefits to receive electronic payments.
You have two options for electronic payments.
You should review the pros and cons of each of these options to decide which type of payment will work best for you.
Alert -- Social Security is phasing out paper checks.
What This Means to You
If you apply for SSDI on or after May 1, 2011, you will receive your benefits by electronic payment. A paper check will not be an option.
If you applied for SSDI before May 1, 2011, but did not receive your award until after that date, you should choose to receive your benefits by electronic payment. If you opt to receive your payments by paper check, you will have to change over to electronic payments by March 1, 2013.
If you now receive SSDI benefits by paper check, you will have to switch to electronic payment by March 1, 2013. Help is available.
If you now receive SSDI benefits electronically, you don't need to do anything. You will continue to receive your payments as usual.
Most people receive their SSDI benefits by direct deposit into a bank or credit union account. This is a popular option for many reasons:
- It's convenient and reliable. The money is deposited into your account on your payment day each month. You then have immediate access to your money from virtually anywhere.
- It's low or no cost. Many banks offer free checking accounts with no minimum balance. You also may be able to pay your bills electronically or use the bank's ATMs at no additional charge.
- It's secure. The money in your bank account is protected and insured up to $250,000 by the FDIC.
- It can help you manage your money. Electronic banking makes it easy to track your expenses and manage your accounts.
Some people are reluctant to use direct deposit because they fear creditors can seize their money. You should know that federal law makes it illegal for a creditor to touch your SSDI payments without your permission. See Protecting SSDI Benefits from Creditors to learn about how the law protects you in this situation.
You also may receive your Social Security benefits on an electronic debit card. This option is for people who do not have a bank account or who do not want to have their funds deposited directly into a bank account.
The U.S. Treasury Department offers a debit card program.
There are many benefits to the electronic debit card:
- It's convenient and reliable. Your money will be automatically loaded onto your card on payment day each month. You will have access to your money at all times from virtually anywhere.
- It's easy to use. For example, you can make purchases and get cash back at stores. You can get cash at ATMs or from bank or credit union tellers. You can pay bills online. You can buy money orders at the post office.
- Funds are protected from creditors. Federal law makes it illegal for a creditor to seize your Social Security benefits. This includes benefits you get on a debit card.
- It's secure. The money in your card account is protected and insured up to $250,000 by the FDIC.
It's also free to use the card. There are no sign-up or monthly fees. You will be charged fees for some optional services. Click here to locate an ATM in the Treasury's network or call (888) 741-1115.