Some Exceptions Are Allowed to Social Security Direct Deposit

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Byline: Patricia Shelton

Every other week, the Senior Services Q&A column provides answers for senior citizens and those who care for them.

Senior Services Associates has offices in Elgin and Aurora, and serves all of Kane County.

Q: Recently I received a notice stating that I had to sign up for direct deposit of my monthly Social Security check. I don't want my check going directly to the bank. I like it coming to my home. Could you please explain this?

A: Because of a new law, there are new choices for how you may want to receive a federal payment such as from Social Security.

Direct deposit: With direct deposit, your federal payment is automatically deposited into your bank account.

You have the guarantee that your payment will always arrive on time and never be lost or stolen. If you already have a checking or savings account, just ask your bank, savings and loan, or credit union to sign you up.

If you don't have an account, you can open one at any bank and simply ask for direct deposit. If you are opening a new account, make sure you understand if there is a fee charged for having your account in that particular bank. Many banks offer discounted or free accounts for senior citizens.

Electronic transfer account: ETAs are low-cost accounts that will allow you to get your federal payments automatically. They will be available at many federally insured banks, savings and loans and credit unions.

With an ETA, you will be able to access your payment at a variety of locations. The government is still working out details involved with ETAs and should have more information available soon. Many currency exchanges already offer ETA as an option.

Check: You can still continue getting your payment by check - if getting your payment by direct deposit would cause you a hardship. Reasons accepted include if you don't speak or read English; if it would cost you more to use direct deposit; if you live in an area where using direct deposit would be difficult; or if you have a physical or mental disability that would make it hard to use direct deposit.

People receiving Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits do not need to do anything to continue receiving monthly benefits by check. …