April 3, 2011

YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY Rock Island, Illinois Office

By Christina Vital
Rock Island Social Security office


For years, Social Security has stressed the convenience, security, and safety of getting benefit payments electronically. Soon, direct deposit (or Direct Express) will not only be the best way to receive Federal benefit payments — it will be the only way.

That’s because the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced a new rule that will phase out paper checks for Federal benefit and non-tax payments by March 1, 2013.

Here is how the transition will work.
• Anyone applying for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits on or after May 1, 2011, will receive their payments electronically, while those already receiving paper checks will need to switch to electronic payments by March 1, 2013.
• Anyone already receiving their benefit payments electronically will continue to receive their payment as usual on their payment day.
• People receiving benefits have the option of direct deposit to a bank or credit union account (of their choice) or into a Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card account (a Treasury-recommended prepaid card option). You can visit www.GoDirect.org to learn more.
• Social Security, SSI, Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, Office of Personnel Management benefits, and other non-tax payments are included.

For most people getting monthly benefits, this won’t really be a change; already 8 out of 10 beneficiaries receive payments electronically.

Why the push for electronic payments instead of paper checks received in the mail?

• It’s safer: no risk of checks being lost or stolen;
• It’s easy and reliable: no need to wait for the mail or go to the bank to cash a check;
• It saves taxpayers money: no cost for postage and paper and printing;
• It saves you money: no check-cashing fees or bank fees; and
• It’s good for the environment: it saves paper and eliminates transportation costs.

If you still get your check in the mail, you don’t need to wait for the new rule to go into effect to enjoy the benefits of electronic payments. Please visit www.godirect.org today and begin getting your Social Security and SSI payments the safe, easy, inexpensive, and green way — electronically.


You’ve probably been on the web, and it’s likely that you’ve attended a seminar. But have you ever attended a “webinar?” We recommend that you do.

Social Security offers a selection of webinars at www.socialsecurity.gov/webinars. You’re invited to attend any of them, anytime. Class is always in session — past webinars are available for you to view at any time. The information can be valuable, but the cost is free.

There are webinars on benefits for wounded warriors, applying for retirement online, extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs, and more.

The two recent webinars on the page are on timely topics.

• How Some Public Employee or Teacher Pensions May Affect Social Security Benefits. In this webinar, we walk you through how the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) may affect Social Security benefits of workers whose employers do not withhold Social Security taxes from their salary, such as some school systems and some local, State and Federal government agencies.

• Ticket to Work. Do you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits? Thousands of SSI and SSDI beneficiaries have learned how to stay in control of their benefits while enriching their lives through employment. You can join them by participating in a 90-minute Work Incentive Seminar Event (WISE) Webinar to learn about available incentives, including those offered through the Ticket to Work program.

If you visit www.socialsecurity.gov/webinars, you’ll find all of the webinars instantly accessible. Any upcoming webinars will be at the top of the page with information on the date, time, and how to register to participate in the webinar live. Once the webinar has taken place, it will be available for anyone to revisit as a resource.

Hit the virtual classroom with a Social Security webinar. Classes begin at www.socialsecurity.gov/webinars.