- Receiving Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security
Income (SSI) payments by direct deposit is safe, quick and convenient;
and it saves the Federal Government money.
- As of October 2001, almost 36 million (80%) of the 45 million
Social Security beneficiaries and over 3 million (50%) of 7
million SSI beneficiaries use direct deposit.
- Direct deposit is the safest, most reliable, and most expedient
method of payment. It offers:
- No paper checks that may be lost or stolen,
- No long lines or delays to cash a check,
- Avoiding traveling to a bank in times of inclement weather,
ill health, or an unscheduled absence from home, and
- The security of knowing that your money is in the bank every
- The Department of the Treasury’s Financial Management Service
says a check now costs the government approximately 45 cents to
process and mail. A direct deposit payment costs 4 cents to process.
- Annual savings to the Social Security Trust Funds based on
direct deposit participation for CY 2000 was about $133 million.
- There are options available for people without bank accounts.
- To encourage Federal (paper) check recipients to consider
an account at a financial institution and to use direct deposit,
the Department of Treasury introduced an easy and affordable
option—Electronic Transfer Account (ETA).
- An ETA is a low-cost account at a bank, credit union or savings
and loan to which Federal benefit payments are deposited electronically.
- Anyone who receives a Federal benefit payment is eligible.
- The maximum monthly account fee for an ETA is $3.00, but
it could be offered for less at the discretion of the ETA
- ETA is available through participating Federally insured financial
institutions, including banks, savings and loans, and credit
unions. Institutions offering ETAs have a decal in their windows
or lobbies identifying them as certified ETA providers.
- Beneficiaries without bank accounts living in some states
have additional choices.
- If an individual prefers the convenience of a debit card,
they can obtain a Benefit Security Card. The Benefit Security
Card is available in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky,
Missouri, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
- Anyone who does not have a bank account and receives a Social
Security and/or Supplemental Security Income check (as well
as various other types of Federal benefit payments) can get
a Benefit Security Card. The debit card is available through
the Department of Treasury’s electronic benefits transfer
- When a person signs up for the Benefit Security Card, their
Federal payment is deposited in an account set up just for
- A Benefit Security Card can be used at automated teller
machines (ATMs) and Point-of-Sale devices.
- There are fees associated with the service.
- To sign up for the program individuals should call the Customer
Service Help Line for their state. (The toll-free numbers are
listed at http://www.fms.treas.gov/ebt/FactSheet.html, the Department
of the Treasury’s website.)
NOTE: For additional information on the Electronic Transfer Account and Benefit Security Card, visit The Department of the Treasury’s website: http://www.fms.treas.gov/eft