One-Year Countdown to All-Electronic Social Security Payments

March 1, 2012
Melody Barrett or Brad Benson
Financial Management Service
U.S. Department of the Treasury
(202) 874-6750


U.S. Treasurer Kicks off One-Year Countdown to All-Electronic Social Security Payments

Encourages remaining check recipients to switch now to the safety and convenience of electronic payments and help save taxpayers $1 billion

Washington, D.C. – (March 1, 2012) – Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios today started an official countdown clock, marking one year until the March 1, 2013 deadline when all federal benefit recipients must receive their Social Security and other federal benefit payments electronically. Treasurer Rios urged remaining paper check recipients to switch now and help taxpayers save $1 billion over 10 years.

Currently, about 90 percent of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments are being made electronically. For the first time in recent history, the number of monthly paper check payments for Social Security, Veterans Affairs and other federal benefits has dropped to approximately 7 million – down from a high of 11 million in 2010.

“As this deadline approaches, we’re urging the remaining 10 percent of federal benefit recipients who still receive a paper check to make the switch to electronic payments as soon as possible,” said Treasurer Rios. “The switch to electronic payments is a win-win for federal benefit recipients and for taxpayers. It provides a safer, more secure, more convenient way for Americans to access their federal benefits, while also improving government efficiency and delivering more than $1 billion in savings. The sooner everyone makes the switch, the sooner we’ll realize those benefits.”

The Treasury Department published a final rule in December 2010 to gradually phase out paper checks for federal benefit payments. Since May 1, 2011, all people newly applying for federal benefits, including Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, Office of Personnel Management benefits and other non-tax payments, have had to choose direct deposit or the Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card at the time they sign up for their benefits. March 1, 2013 is the final deadline by which all remaining federal benefit check recipients must receive their money electronically.

Public education campaign helps remaining check recipients through the change

The Treasury Department’s Go Direct® public education campaign is helping people understand what they need to do to get their money electronically.

“We’ve come a long way in informing Americans that direct deposit is a faster, easier and more reliable way to receive their money, but there is still more work to do,” Rios added. “We are continuing that strong commitment to public education, aggressively reaching out to check recipients with information about how to easily make the transition and helping them through the change.”

The Treasury Department will include information in all check recipients’ March 2012 payments, reminding them to switch ahead of the deadline and offering them information about their electronic payment options. Additionally, the Go Direct® campaign is now working with more than 1,800 partner organizations throughout the country to spread the message, developing a new series of public service announcements and providing other supportive materials such as an instructional video about how to make the switch online or over-the-phone and about how electronic payments work.

Make the switch today

Federal benefit recipients can switch to electronic payments online at or through the U.S. Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Center toll-free at 1-800-333-1795. Check recipients should have the following information on hand when making the switch to an electronic payment option, including the Direct Express® card:

  • Social Security number or claim number
  • 12-digit federal benefit check number
  • Amount of most recent federal benefit check

If signing up for direct deposit to an existing financial institution account, individuals will also need:

  • Financial institution’s routing transit number – often available on a personal check
  • Account number and type (checking or saving)

For the media

Downloadable B-roll from the countdown kick-off will be available later today at




The Go Direct® campaign is sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banks. The Direct Express® logo,Go Direct® and Direct Express® are registered service marks, and theGo Directsm logo is a service mark, of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service. The Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card is issued by Comerica Bank, pursuant to a license by MasterCard International Incorporated. MasterCard® and the MasterCard® Brand Mark are registered trademarks of MasterCard International Incorporated.