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No more paper SSDI checks as of March

March is over, and Social Security Disability is going entirely paperless. If you or a loved one has been getting SSD benefits by paper checks in the mail, you will need to make changes to continue receiving your disability income. Paper checks stopped being sent out on March 1, 2013.

As of January 2013, 5 million individuals still received SSDI checks in the mail. All of these individuals must now either sign up for direct deposit into a bank account or receive a Direct Express debit card. The debit card enables individuals on SSD to draw from their pool of disability money to pay for groceries and other necessities, though direct deposit will probably be necessary to pay for rent and some utilities. Direct Express offers limited withdrawal options at ATMs within the SSD network; the first withdrawal each month is free, and subsequent withdrawals are 90 cents each. Out-of-network ATMs may charge as much as $3 per withdrawal.

What to do if you haven’t changed yet

People who still need assistance with signing up for paperless benefits can contact a Social Security Disability lawyer for assistance. This will involve filling out some paperwork and sending it to Social Security through the mail or at your local office. Those who hadn’t yet switched by March likely received letters of assistance in the mail for changing to either the debit or direct deposit payment options.

Payments were not interrupted, but they were not automatically switched, either. If you don’t make the switch in time, SSD money will stay in your account with the federal agency until you decide to get it direct deposited or use your Direct Express card.

Exceptions to the new rule

While most people will now need to get their SSD money through direct deposits, there are a few exceptions. Seniors born before May 1, 1921 can still receive paper checks if they want them, as can people who request a waiver from Social Security. Waivers are often granted to those who live in rural areas without adequate banking opportunities. They may also be given to those with mental impairments who may not be able to handle electronic payments.

Why go paperless

Analysts estimate that going paperless with SSD payments will save U.S. taxpayers $1 billion over the course of 10 years, and consumers could save more than $5 per month on checking fees. Savings related to administrative costs are the main reason why Social Security is ending its paper checking system. To compensate, Social Security has developed an online portal known as My Social Security to cover a variety of services. You can access monthly statements through My Social Security, get proof of income for loans, mortgages, assisted housing and local benefits. You can also change your address and apply for additional benefits through My Social Security.

If you have questions about Social Security Disability Income, contact an experienced Social Security Disability attorney to review your case or situation.