The Social Security Administration began issuing debit cards last year to those who did not have direct deposit and wanted an easier way to receive their monthly benefits other than by check. SSA has always had problems with checks being lost, stolen or delayed in the mail. With the advent of direct deposit, much of this problem was resolved. But there were many who did not have bank accounts.
And paying benefits digitally rather than by paper is a big savings to SSA. It cost about $1.00 to mail a paper check and only 10 to 12 cents to do it by automated transfer. With the 500,000 people already signed up for the debit card, it is saving the SSA about $440,000 each month. And SSA needs every one of those dollars!
Along came the debit cards. Each month, the amount of the Social Security benefit is added to the card. There are no fees for signing up and you can get one free replacement card each year if you should lose the card.
Sounds like a safe and easy way to receive your money. It is if you use it carefully and know about additional fees that can be charged if you are not careful. Some of those fees include a $4.00 charge for a second replacement card in a year, $.75 for a monthly statement by mail, $.90 for each ATM withdrawal after the first one, plus additional fees if you use an out-of-network ATM machine, which seem to be difficult to find. If you need cash, your best bet is to get cash back when you purchase something.
This is a very positive step by SSA in resolving many of the problems revolving around lost, stolen, or delayed checks. Also learn how to replace your ss card