Disbursing Federal Payments
The Bureau of the Fiscal Service (Fiscal Service) is the primary disburser of payments to individuals and businesses on behalf of federal agencies – for example, benefit payments paid by the Social Security Administration or the Department of Veterans Affairs, federal income tax refund payments, and payments to businesses for goods and services provided to the federal government.
The majority of the payments are disbursed through electronic funds transfers; the remaining are check payments. Annually, Fiscal Service disburses more than a billion payments, with an associated dollar value of more than $2.4 trillion.
In keeping with the Fiscal Service strategic goal of moving toward an all-electronic Treasury, Fiscal Service continually invests in state-of-the-art technology systems that are integral to processing payments accurately, efficiently, and securely.
In fiscal year 2013, 96 percent of the more than 1 billion payments were issued by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).
In 1996, Congress passed a law requiring most federal payments to be paid by EFT. For those individuals without a bank account, Treasury designed the Electronic Transfer Account (ETA), a low-cost account to be offered by federally insured financial institutions with the same consumer protections available to other account holders. The ETA is available to any federal benefit, wage, salary, or retirement payment regardless of the recipients' previous credit history.
Fiscal Service Regional Financial Centers perform other payment-related services, including:
- preliminary handling of check claims,
- complete handling of EFT claims,
- processing of all trace and reclamation actions for EFT payments,
- cancellation of returned checks, and
- making any related adjustment in agencies' accounts.
Read more about Payments programs.
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