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An official website of the United States Government.

Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

How do people sign up for or switch to electronic payments of their federal benefits?

People who will be applying for benefits on or after May 1, 2011, should be ready to sign up for direct deposit when they apply for federal benefits and understand what information they should have on-hand to sign up. This will ensure they get their benefit payments in the safest, most reliable way possible.


  • To get benefit payments by direct deposit into an existing financial institution account, people should be prepared with the following information for a smooth enrollment:
    • Account type: checking or savings
    • Account number
    • Financial institution’s routing number


  • To sign up for the Direct Express® card, people should notify their federal benefit agency at the time they apply for benefits. Once approved for federal benefits, they will receive their Direct Express® card and an information packet in the mail.

People who currently receive federal benefits by paper check, should make the switch today to get their money a safer, more reliable way immediately.


If the benefit recipient has a bank or credit union account, he/she should sign up for direct deposit at, by calling (800) 333-1795, or by visiting their local bank/credit union branch or federal benefit agency office.


Those who prefer a prepaid debit card can sign up for the Direct Express® card by calling toll-free (800) 333-1795, signing up online at, or by contacting their local federal benefit agency office. No bank account or credit check is required to sign up for the card.


(Visit for more information about fees and the surcharge-free network.)


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