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Monday October 29, 2001

Tom Tobin, Acting Press Officer

For Immediate Release

410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973


Social Security Online

SOCIAL SECURITY

News Release

Statement of Larry Massanari,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security
on Direct Deposit
(Aquí en Español)

As a result of the recent incidents involving our nationís mailing system, the one question we are repeatedly hearing at the Social Security Administration is, "Will I get my benefit payment?" I want to assure the American public that these incidents have not adversely affected the payment of Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

In addition, some understandable concerns have been expressed by our beneficiaries about the safety of mailed Social Security and SSI checks. For those who have these concerns, I want to encourage them to use the most convenient and safest way for beneficiaries to receive their paymentsóDirect Deposit.

Direct deposit presents many advantages. It eliminates concerns about delayed mail. Direct deposit eliminates the need for frequent trips to banks; payments are deposited automatically into accounts and are readily available for immediate use. There is no need to wait in long lines to cash a check or to worry when a visit to a bank is impossible due to inclement weather or a lack of transportation. And with direct deposit, the possibility of a stolen check is removed.

The only difference with direct deposit is that checks are not printed or mailed. Currently, more than 50 million Americans receive Social Security and SSI benefits. Of those, over 75 percent have taken advantage of direct deposit.

Direct deposit presents an advantage for the government as well. It costs the government 45 cents to process and mail a check while it costs only 4 cents to send a payment by direct deposit. Last year, direct deposit saved the Social Security Trust Funds approximately $133 million.

Signing up for direct deposit is relatively simple and easy, just call SSAís toll free number, 1-800-772-1213, or visit the nearest local Social Security office. Banks, savings and loan or credit unions can also help people sign up for direct deposit.

If for some reason, an individual does not have an account and cannot open one at a bank, savings and loan or credit union, the Department of Treasury has created special low-cost accounts available to persons who receive a federal benefit. To find out where to open one of these low-cost Electronic Transfer Accounts (ETA) individuals should call 1-888-382-3311, toll-free or look for the ETA logo in the financial institutionís window or lobby.

At the Social Security Administration, we understand that recent incidents have raised concerns about changes in the way we have traditionally lived our lives. We are doing everything that we can to make sure our service is as dependable now as it has been for over 66 years.

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NOTE TO CORRESPONDENTS: A fact sheet about direct deposit is available here.

Note: Copies of most SSA press releases, as well as other Social Security information and statistics,
are available at SSA’s Internet site, Social Security Online, at http://www.ssa.gov.
Also look there for information on subscribing to SSA’s
free electronic newsletter, Social Security e-news.

SSA Press Office 4-H-9 West High Rise. 6401 Security Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21235
410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973

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