As reported in the Dallas Morning News today, the Social Security Administration is going to make life a little easier, and cheaper, for Social Security recipients. As the system stands now, recipients of retirement or Social Security disability benefits can get their monthly payments directly deposited electronically into their bank accounts. But those who don’t have bank accounts still must deal with paper checks from the government. Unfortunately, this frequently means having to pay a check-cashing service each month, thereby reducing the net amount the recipient gets.
But beginning this week in Texas and several other states, Social Security recipients will have the option of receiving their benefits on a debit card. This means they won’t have to pay anyone to cash their monthly checks. Here are excerpts from the story:
The government is introducing the Direct Express program in Texas and nine other states this week and will roll it out nationwide by October. Dallas-based Comerica Bank will issue the debit MasterCards.
The program is targeted toward the 4 million Social Security and Supplemental Security Income recipients without a bank.
“Direct Express should appeal to them because it eliminates the risk of checks getting lost or stolen in the mail, and it gives people access to their money without having to carry around a lot of cash,” said Treasury official Judith Tillman.
Cardholders can make purchases, pay bills and get cash at thousands of ATMs and retail locations, she said.
“Our beneficiaries have paid an average of $6, and sometimes as much as $20, at check-cashing services,” Ms. Tillman said. “So they should like the fact that they can use their card for little or no cost.”