March 1st: Mandatory Electronic Payments for Most Federal Benefit Recipients


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By Consumers Union on Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Nearly all federal benefit recipients will no longer be receiving checks in the mail starting this Friday, March 1st.  Many beneficiaries have already been required to provide their own account information or obtain a Direct Express prepaid card if one is not provided.  

Recipients will be required to obtain their payments electronically, which includes one of two options:

1) Provide the Treasury Department with account information
2) Receive a Direct Express prepaid card

The Direct Express prepaid card is issued by Comerica bank on behalf of Treasury to disburse federal payments, such as Social Security, SSI, Veterans benefits.  If you have a Direct Express prepaid card and need assistance with issues involving your card or account, please contact Comerica directly at 1-800-333-1795 or visit

The Treasury Department has long been trying to get recipients to transfer to electronic payments under its Go Direct initiative.

For more information, please visit

A limited number of recipients, including recipients with birthdays before May 1, 1921 may apply for a waiver to continue to receive paper checks.  The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) has put together useful information for people to help beneficiaries and their others to navigate the change.

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