Social Security Recipients Report Satisfaction With Debit Card Program

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the deadline approaches for Social Security benefit recipients to switch to direct deposit or a debit card program, 95 percent of individuals who use the Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card to receive monthly Social Security payments report they are satisfied with the card.

According to a new cardholder study, 93 percent also say they are likely to recommend the card to others. The findings come from a survey conducted last month by KRC Research and commissioned by MasterCard Worldwide on behalf of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Management Service.

Introduced in June 2008, the Direct Express® card has helped more than 3 million Americans – two-thirds of whom did not have traditional bank accounts when they signed up for the card – to access their federal benefit payments. Approximately 6 million paper checks are still sent to federal benefit recipients each month, and the Treasury Department urges these individuals to switch to the Direct Express® card or direct deposit well ahead of the March 1, 2013, deadline for all federal benefits to be paid electronically.

“We hope that hearing about the extremely high satisfaction with the Direct Express® card will encourage check recipients to make the switch to the card or direct deposit as soon as possible,” said David Lebryk, commissioner of the Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service. “For four years, millions of senior citizens, people with disabilities and other Americans who lack access to traditional banking services have used their Direct Express® cards to pay bills, withdraw cash and make purchases without worrying about their paper checks being lost or stolen or paying check-cashing fees.”

Additional findings from the Direct Express® cardholder satisfaction survey revealed:

  • 97 percent said the Direct Express® card is a safer way to receive their benefits than paper checks
  • 93 percent said the card is more convenient than cash to make purchases
  • 91 percent said the card makes it easier to pay bills
  • 85 percent said the card helps them manage their money

“We know moving from paper checks to electronic payments may be challenging for some Americans and that’s why we’re taking extra steps through our Go Direct campaign to provide robust levels of education and community outreach in the months leading up to the March 1, 2013, deadline,” Lebryk said. “We are working closely with financial institutions, caregivers, senior services providers and advocates for people who are homeless or have disabilities to ensure there is a comprehensive network of organizations that can help people make a smooth transition to electronic payments.”

Check recipients can sign up for direct deposit or the Direct Express® card by calling toll-free 1-800-333-1795, visiting, or talking to their local federal paying agency office. By taking a few minutes to gather the necessary information ahead of time, most federal benefit recipients can sign up for electronic payments with one phone call that takes 10 minutes or less.

Individuals will need their Social Security number or claim number, their 12-digital federal benefit check number and the amount of their most recent federal benefit check. If choosing direct deposit, recipients also will need their financial institution’s routing transit number, (often found on a personal check) account number and account type (checking or saving). There are no sign-up fees or monthly fees to receive benefits electronically.

Survey results are from a telephone survey of a random sample of 1,211 Direct Express® cardholders in June 2012. The margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level is +/-2.8 percent.

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