Close-up of a credit/debit cardIn 2013, the Social Security Administration (SSA) made a big change that impacted Social Security disability recipients. It was in March of that year that the SSA stopped offering the option of paper checks for benefits recipients. Instead, people receiving monthly Social Security disability benefits began having two options. They could either have a monthly direct deposit into their bank accounts or they could have their benefits put on a Direct Express MasterCard debit card.

Those are the options that still exist in late 2016, so it is important to consider the pros and cons of each payment method if you receive Social Security disability benefits.

The Direct Express Debit Card

Some of the benefits of the Direct Express debit card include:

  • The card is safer than paper checks. Each year, many Social Security checks were reported lost or stolen. Since the money on your debit card is transferred automatically and instantly, your money is much more secure.
  • The card is great for those without bank accounts. In the past, those who didn’t belong to a bank or credit union had difficulty cashing their checks. With this card, no bank account is needed.
  • It is more convenient. With the card, you don’t have to wait for your check or worry about overdraft fees. You also don’t have to deposit anything.

However, there may be some costs to consider. For example:

  • There may be fees involved. Although you are allowed one free ATM transaction a month, subsequent ATM visits involve a fee. There are also fees involved in using your card abroad, replacing your card more than once a year, and transferring funds from your card to a bank.
  • You could lose your card. If your card is lost or stolen and you do not report it right away, you could be without funds until you receive a replacement.

The other option is a direct deposit to your bank account.

Direct Deposit to Your Bank Account

The benefits of having your money sent as a direct deposit are similar to those of the debit card. Specifically, your money is more secure since there is no chance of it getting lost and it is easier for you since you do not have to wait for the mail and then deposit a check before you have access to the money. Typically, there are no fees from the federal government for this form of payment, but there may be fees charged by the bank.

Both forms of payment save the United States government money on paper and postage and can provide significant benefits to Social Security disability recipients.

If you have any question about which method of payment to choose be sure to talk to your disability lawyer when you apply for benefits.

Carl M. Weisbrod
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Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law
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