DIRECT EXPRESS DEBIT CARDS
Since 2008, people receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits who do not have a bank account have had the option of receiving benefits in the form of a prepaid debit card instead of a paper check. This option has since been extended to those receiving VA Compensation and Pension, Railroad Retirement benefits and federal retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.
Treasury awarded the contract for the program to Comerica, Inc. and Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (ACS). The cards offered are MasterCard debit cards, can be used wherever MasterCard is accepted and are subject to Regulation E protections, but can only be loaded with Social Security and SSI benefits at this time. There is no monthly fee and no fee for overdrafts or declined transactions. Participants have access to a network of over 56,000 ATMs including those at 7-Eleven and all Master Card member banks with one free cash withdrawal per monthly deposit and a .90 cent fee for subsequent withdrawals within the network. There is also no charge for bank teller cash withdrawals at MasterCard member banks.
The information provided by Treasury indicates that “funds will not be subject to freezing or garnishment, except as authorized by Federal law, for example, when the cardholder owes delinquent Federal taxes or delinquent child support.”
Updated January 2011