How Does It Work
The federal benefits are paid directly to your card on your monthly payment date. You wont have to wait for a check to arrive in the mail. If you have another bank account, you can transfer the funds to it, but you’ll pay a $1.50 fee for each transfer to a U.S. bank account. If you already have a bank account with a debit card, enrolling in direct deposit may a better option.
Your card comes with a personal identification number that you use to authorize transactions or withdrawals. You can also have your transactions processed as “credit” rather than “debit,” which means you sign for purchases instead, as you would with a credit card. The funds are still deducted from your balance, even when you choose the credit option.
Purchases, withdrawals, and transaction fees are deducted from your balance. Once youve spent all of the funds on the card, youll be unable to use it until you receive your next months benefits.
You can be assured that your money is safe: the funds in your account are FDIC-insured up to the legal limit.
The Bank Must Review Each Account Separately
The bank must review each of your bank accounts separately. That means that if you have money in an account that Social Security funds are not directly deposited into, the bank cannot protect these funds even if you transferred some of your direct deposit Social Security funds into that account after they were received. The bank is not required or permitted to trace the direct deposited funds to other accounts.
But the rules can work in your favor as well. The bank must simply protect the balance in the account receiving direct deposits, up to the total of the direct deposits made during the look-back period. It does not matter whether the funds in the account at the time the garnishment order is received are part of the Social Security direct deposits or from a different source entirely.
Cash A Check Without A Bank Account
Its possible to cash a check without a bank account, but its not as convenient and youll pay some fees.
How to cash a check without a bank account, but you have ID:
- Cash it at the issuing bank
- Cash a check at a retailer that cashes checks
- Cash the check at a check-cashing store
- Deposit at an ATM onto a pre-paid card account or checkless debit card account
All of these options will have fees and may be time-consuming. The fees might be small, but they add up. If youre earning $300 a week and paying $7 to cash your paycheck, thats 2% of your paycheck used just to convert your paycheck to cash. Thats $360 in fees per year!
Save yourself money and time and open a bank checking account. Once you have a checking account, you can probably get direct deposit or you can deposit your check through an ATM.
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Avoiding Social Security Garnishment
The IRS must notify you 30 days before they begin garnishing the checks, in order to give you time to pay what you owe first. If you can pay the entire amount up front, you will avoid garnishment.
You may be able to negotiate a payment plan outside of garnishment, as well, and the IRS tends to be fairly receptive to negotiations. They also have an option known as Offer in Compromise , where you settle for less than the total amount owed. There is, however, an application fee for an OIC, unless you are below an income threshold.
The best way to avoid garnishment is to recognize you are having trouble paying back debts, and call ahead to work out a payment plan. Do not let the situation get so bad that garnishment is the only option.
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How To Change Your Social Security To Direct Deposit
A Step-by-Step Guide for Seniors to Set Up or Change Your Social Security Direct Deposit Information
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As of March 1, 2013, the Social Security Administration now requires you1 to get your benefit payments electronically . Having funds sent directly to your bank account is one of the easiest ways to track your finances and secure your benefits, but it goes well beyond budgeting. If you or a loved one have not yet signed up, direct deposit is a smart move for multiple reasons. In this article, we’ll lay out the benefits, how to enroll, and most importantly, when to expect that first deposit!
Who Is Eligible For The Social Security Debit Card
Anyone who receives Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits is eligible to use this card.
Because its a prepaid debit card, you can only use your Direct Express Social Security debit card if you have funds in your account. Once youve spent or withdrawn your entire account balance, youll have to wait for your next monthly disbursement to use your card again.
You cannot deposit personal funds onto the card. You must open a separate bank or prepaid card to deposit personal funds.
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What You Need To Open A Bank Account
At a minimum, a bank is required by law to obtain basic personal information from you when you open a new account. Heres what youll need to provide:
1. Name and date of birth. To confirm your name and birthday, if youre undocumented, banks typically require one of the following documents:
Government-issued driver’s license .
People in New York City, San Francisco or other cities that issue municipal IDs can often use those IDs as proof of identity.
2. Proof of address. Banks and credit unions often require proof of a street address to open an account. One of the following can satisfy this requirement:
Current drivers license or municipal ID.
3. Identification number. An identification number means one of the following:
Social Security number .
Alien identification card number.
Any other government-issued document that proves your nationality or residence, such as a passport or foreign drivers license.
Banks and credit unions may have requirements in addition to the ones listed above.
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Access To Bank Account Information
The Social Security Administration has a legal right to look inside someoneâs bank account if they participate in the Supplemental Security Income program. This review serves as a way to investigate whether they actually fall under the requirements of the program.
Beneficiaries of the Social Security Disability Insurance program, on the other hand, donât have to worry about the government checking their account to verify eligibility for that program. Since their eligibility is determined through their work history, they do not have any legal limitations on the assets that they can have. However, people in both programs will face recurring reviews to verify their eligibility.
The Supplemental Security Income program is specifically designed for people who have disabilities and limited resources. The government has determined that if someone is able to sufficiently gain a certain amount of resources, then they donât need Supplemental Security Income. When you sign up for the program, you must provide permission for the government to be able to reach out to various financial institutions and check whether the information that you provided is accurate. This permission applies to both the first application for the program and the recurring checks of eligibility.
Read Also: When Do You Get Social Security Payments
The Bank Must Notify You Of Its Determination
Once the bank completes its review of your accounts, it has three days to send you a notice informing you of the garnishment and providing you with the results of its review . If there are unprotected funds, however, the notice period will not delay the freezing of the unprotected funds.
The notice must provide the following information:
- that a garnishment order was received
- the date the order was received
- a brief explanation of garnishment
- an explanation of the bank’s responsibility to protect federal benefit payments direct deposited during the look-back period and keep them accessible to the account owner
- the account that received direct deposits and which may be subject to the order
- the requirement that the bank freeze any unprotected funds in the account, if any
- the amount of any garnishment fee
- the protected deposits identified during the review
- how you can assert other exemptions in the garnishment action to try to protect any funds that the bank must freeze
- your right to consult an attorney or legal aid service for assistance, and
- the name of the creditor who obtained the garnishment order and contact information, if available.
How To Change Your Social Security To Direct Deposit Online
You can switch to direct deposit through the SSA’s website. To do that, you’ll also need to have a my Social Security account. If you don’t have one, head over to our guide to creating a my Social Security account. It takes about 10 minutes to create your account. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make the change to direct deposit.
Before getting started, make sure you have the following information on hand:
- Your Social Security number
- A bank statement and/or checkbook and your:
- Bank routing number
- Bank account type
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Cashing A Check Is Easiest And Cheapest With A Bank
When you dont have a bank account, youll always be stuck paying fees to get your checks cashed.
If youre tired of paying fees, driving around town, and calling places to ask about their policies, you might want to consider opening a bank account. The best online checking accounts allow you to earn the highest interest rates on your savings and get your checks cashed fee-free every time.
Can The Bank Require Me To Provide My Social Security Number
Yes, in certain circumstances. A bank may be required to obtain an identification number for several kinds of banking-related activities, including:
- When opening an account
- For monetary transactions
- For large currency transactions
- When reporting the interest earned on deposit accounts to the Internal Revenue Service
For a U.S. citizen, an identification number is the individual’s Social Security number. For business accounts, an identification number is the employer identification number issued by the IRS.
Refer to 31 CFR 1020 “Rules for Banks.”
Last Reviewed: April 2021
Please note: The terms “bank” and “banks” used in these answers generally refer to national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches or agencies of foreign banking organizations that are regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency . Find out if the OCC regulates your bank. Information provided on HelpWithMyBank.gov should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion of the OCC.
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Exceptions To The Rule
Your Social Security benefits might be at risk if you owe any of the following:
- Federal income tax.
- Federal student loans.
- Delinquent child support and/or spousal support.
If you receive your benefits via paper check, your Social Security income might be vulnerable as well.
Even under the exceptions above, Supplemental Security Income is off-limits for garnishment or a bank levy unless you were overpaid and the Social Security Administration is correcting an error.
The Bank’s Duty To Review Your Account
Here’s how it works. When the bank receives a garnishment or attachment order, the bank has two business days to conduct a review. It must identify your accounts and then determine if the garnishment order is to collect child support or federal taxes. If so, the bank may freeze your funds, even if they come from Social Security.
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How To Cash My Social Security Check For Free
When you a receive a benefits check from the Social Security Administration, every dime counts. Paying high check cashing fees at banks and check cashing agencies will quickly add up. You have several options available that will allow you to cash your Social Security check for free. Depending upon the option you choose, you may be able to cash your check without leaving the comfort of your home.
Can I Cash A Check Without An Id
With the exception of endorsing your check to a friend or family member, all of the check cashing places above will require at least one form of ID, sometimes two. If your ID is expired, then technically it is not valid and wont count as a form of identification.
If you do not have an ID, you have three options:
- Endorse the check to someone else
- Cash the check online
- Sign up with a bank and use its online app
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Benefits Of Switching To Direct Deposit For Social Security
Many people, especially as they get older, think that keeping cash or having a physical check is the safest way to protect their money. But physical money is easier to lose and more difficult to manage. Here’s why using direct deposit can be a huge help in managing your money:
- It’s easier. It’s automatic, so you don’t have to remember to physically deposit a check.
- It’s safer. The funds go directly into your account electronically, so there’s no risk your paper check will be lost or stolen.
- It’s more convenient. You don’t have to go anywhere! The funds appear in your account all on their own.
- It’s faster. Electronic transfers can happen in a matter of days or even hours in some cases. That’s a lot faster than waiting for a check in the mail and trekking to the bank to make a deposit.
Protect Your Card And Personal Information
Direct Express® will never contact you by phone, email or text message to ask you for your card number, password, PIN or security code.
If you have responded to any communication asking you to provide any card or personal information, please inform Direct Express® customer service immediately by calling the number on the back of your card.
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Endorse Your Check To A Friend Or Family Member
If you dont have a bank account of your own, then you could endorse the check to a friend or family member who does.
Endorsing a check is a simple two-step process:
- You write Pay to the order of
- Sign underneath
They can then cash the check for free and give the funds to you.
This obviously requires a deep level of trust and, in some cases, you both have to be present at the bank so they can prove that you are not being pressured or forced to do this. Youll likely be asked to fill out a form to certify your endorsement.
Depending on how often you need to cash a check, it may be much easier for you to open a checking account of your own and avoid this workaround. The last thing you want is for money to get in the way of your relationships with friends and family.
Safeguarding Your Ssi Eligibility
Before you actually apply for Supplemental Security Income, itâs a good idea that you meet with a disability lawyer and go over your resources. Having this expertise can hopefully prevent any mistakes, overpayments, or surprises.
If a review determines that your resources have gone above the limit, the government has the right to subject your wages or your accounts to garnishments in order to collect any benefit overpayments back from you. If you do receive assets somewhere down the line that are beyond the eligible limit for Supplemental Security Income, it is a good idea to set aside any further payments from Supplemental Security Income. This way, if the SSA reviews your account and wants their funds back, you have them on hand and available to give over right away. The garnishment process can be stressful and itâs best to avoid it if you can.
Itâs also a good idea for you to keep as much autonomy around your bank account as possible. This means having only your money in accounts with your name on them. When the government reviews your account, they will count all of the resources in the account as yours, even if some donât belong to you. Additionally, the government will count your spouseâs resources as yours, regardless of whether such resources are actually shared or not. Keeping money that shouldnât be counted towards your eligibility cap completely separate and not attached to your name could be very helpful.