As many of you already know, the U.S. Treasury Department decided that government benefits need to be paid electronically. This means that benefits have to be electronically deposited into your bank account or can be “loaded” onto a debit card. 

If you have already initiated receipt of federal benefit payments, including Social Security and Veterans’ Administration payments, they are already electronically or direct deposited to an account, and there is nothing further to do unless you wish to have them transferred to a different account. If no other action is taken, the payments will continue to be deposited on the previously scheduled date. 

However, if you currently receive any federal benefit by a paper check, you have only until March 1, 2013 to switch to the electronic payment option. You might prefer to open a new checking or savings account and have those payments directly deposited to it. 

If you don’t have a bank account or don’t make a specific election by the cutoff of March 1, 2013, (unless extended,) you will receive your payments through a direct express debit MasterCard©. Basically, your payment will be loaded onto a prepaid debit card. There are no sign-up fees and no monthly service fees, however, if you do elect for optional services, these may be subject to monthly service charges. 

If you want to change your current method of payment, there are several options for you to consider at this time:

  1. You may call the U.S. Treasury & Processing Center at 800-333-1795;
  2. You may go in person to your current financial institution, which will assist you with the preparation of the documents to have your check deposited electronically to your account;
  3. You may sign up online at

The time to sign up is now if you don’t want the default debit card in the future!

Hyman G. Darling, Esq.

 Photo credit: Microsoft

This post originally appeared on Bacon Wilson, P.C.'s blog entitled, "Estate Planning Bits."