Effective 1 March 2013, paper checks will no longer be issued for any federal benefits, including military retirement pay, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, or Social Security. If you are currently receiving benefits, and get a paper check in the mail, you need to make arrangements to have your payments made directly to your bank or credit union. This is called Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) or “direct deposit.”
This switch will help beneficiaries and save the federal government a lot of money. Direct deposit offers immediate access to your funds, security from lost or stolen checks, decreased likelihood of fraud, and increased banking flexibility. It is less expensive to process and there are significantly fewer problems, meaning even more cost savings.
Directions for switching military payments administered by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) can be found at the DFAS Mandatory EFT/Direct Deposit page.
Directions for switching other federal programs such as VA benefits and Social Security benefits can be found at the Federal Government’s Go Direct website.
Currently serving military servicemembers and government civilians who do not have access to their pay accounts online should contact their pay processing unit immediately.
While the official deadline is 1 March 2013, there is some evidence that paper checks will continued to be mailed for a short period of time as late direct deposit requests are initiated. Once that time has passed, there are plans for beneficiaries to be issued debit cards onto which federal benefits can be loaded. Direct deposit is definitely preferable to these debit cards, so don’t delay.