As of March 1st, 2013, people who sign up for Social Security benefits are required to set up direct deposit to receive their payments.
In my book, this is a good thing. It’s both more cost effective and more secure than mailing out checks and having them sit in a mailbox until some picks them up.
If you were already receiving benefits on March 1st and are still receiving checks, you’ll need to make the switch. You can get further details at the Treasury’s Go Direct website.
But what if you’re already receiving electronic payments and you decide that you want to change your banking details? You can do so with an online account that also provides access to your earnings history, benefit details, etc.
This was actually the case for my mom, who had been receiving her payments via direct deposit to her savings account but wanted to switch that to checking. Since she’s not terribly tech savvy, I offered to help her through the process.
Creating an SSA account
To make the change, start by visiting the my Social Security website. If you don’t have an account (this was the case for my mom), you’ll need to create one.
Related: If you’re interested in Social Security planning, be sure to check out Mike Piper’s excellent book “Social Security Made Simple.”
To get started, click the “Create An Account” button. From there, you’ll be asked for personally identifying information: your name (as shown on your Social Security card), your SSN and date of birth, your home address, and your phone number.
To increase account security, you can also ask the system to send you a unique login code via text message whenever you attempt to login. We didn’t set this up at first, though I might go back and do so.
From there, you’ll be asked to verify your identity by answering five questions related to your Experian credit report. These are pretty straightforward and should be things that you’ll know off the top of your head.
Changing your direct deposit
Now… To change your direct deposit settings, click the “Benefit & Payment” tab.
From there, click the “Update Direct Deposit” button on the right.
And… Finally, you’ll just need to enter your banking information, including your routing and account numbers. If this is for a checking account, you can get the necessary info from the bottom of your check.
The routing number should be a nine digit number in the bottom left, below the memo line. The next number is your account number. And the last number in that bottom row is the check number (this should match the number in the top right).
That’s it. The whole process takes just a couple of minutes. Just be aware that your change won’t take effect for a month or two.