Receiving Social Security Benefits for Married Couples

Married couples are entitled to Social Security benefits based on each person’s work history. When each spouse takes these benefits at the full retirement age, it is known as the “Primary Insurance Amount.” If one spouse earned less than the other, this spouse could also be entitled to extra benefits based on his or her spouse’s higher income. A surviving spouse may also receive a deceased spouse’s benefits if they were higher than the surviving spouse’s benefits. Then, married couples have the four following options for receiving their Social Security benefits:

Direct Deposit

In 2013, the Social Security Administration required beneficiaries to receive their benefits by Direct Deposit. You must have an existing bank account to select this option. You would need to give the SSA your bank account number and the routing number so that the agency can make deposits into your bank. The money will be available for your use after the SSA makes the deposit.

Direct Deposit is the best option for the following reasons:

It Is Convenient.

With Direct Deposit, you don’t have to travel to your bank to deposit your check into your bank account. If you are on vacation, your money will appear in your account even if you are not at home to deposit the check. Direct Deposit also keeps you from having to pay fees for depositing money, and the money is ready for you to use the day that the deposit is made.

It Is Fast.

All you have to do to begin receiving your payments by Direct Deposit is visit Go Direct online or call 1(800)333-1795. You can sign up by going to your bank, savings and loan, or credit union in person. You can also contact the Social Security Administration. Then, all you have to do is wait to receive your first deposit.

It Is Safe.

The money appears in your account via an electronic transfer, so there isn’t any chance that a check can be lost or stolen.

Direct Express Card Program

Not everyone feels comfortable giving their bank account information to a payer, and everyone doesn’t have a bank account. If this describes you, you have the option of receiving your payments on Direct Express. Direct Express is a Social Security Administration provider of debit cards. Direct Express will deposit your monthly payment onto your own personal debit card, and the funds will be available for your use on that day.

The Direct Express card may be just as convenient as Direct Deposit. For example, you can pay your bills, purchase products or services, and obtain cash with your debit card. It is safe and convenient, and it offers you your Social Security benefits electronically.

You can use your Direct Express card for several banking transactions, such as transferring funds, monitoring account activity and checking your account’s balance. You will not be charged when you ask for cash back at retail stores.

Since the Direct Express card is a MasterCard, you can use your Direct Express card everywhere, such as at restaurants, for medical services, at pharmacies, department stores, gas stations and grocery stores.

In most instances, you will not be charged any fees for using this debit card. You will not have to pay to sign up, and you will not be charged a fee to use the card everywhere that MasterCard is accepted. You can also get cash from a bank or a credit union without having to pay a fee.

The Direct Express debit card is also very safe and secure. The money deposited into your account is insured by the FDIC, and your card will be protected by a Personal Identification Number or PIN for use in stores, online and at ATMs. You don’t have to worry if you ever lose your card because Direct Express will replace it when you contact customer service.

Direct Express PayPerks

Direct Express offers the PayPerks program as an option. This program offers you rewards for making an effort to learn how to use your debit card wisely. You will earn PayPerks points that may entitle you to a cash prize. You can earn points when you learn how to save your Social Security benefits, learn how to make the most of your Direct Express debit card and inform your friends about the great perks you are receiving in this program.

You can sign up for a Direct Express debit card by contacting Direct Express. If you have any questions about Direct Express, feel free to call the Social Security Administration at 1(877)212-9991. The representative will make signing up easy for you.

Low-Cost Financial Institution Options

If you don’t currently have a bank account, you can open one. Your local bank or credit union would need to be able to offer you an inexpensive Electronic Transfer Account. The Electronic Transfer Account or ETA is an account that is expressly for the deposit of federal payments to Americans without checking or savings accounts.

You can obtain an ETA from credit unions, savings and loans, or banks that are registered as providers of ETAs. The terms for each ETA will vary, but in most cases, you will be able to withdraw your money with a debit card, at an ATM or inside the financial institution.

Most people can open ETAs unless they have been involved in a scheme that abused an ETA in some way in the past, so your credit history will not matter. When approved, you will not have to maintain a minimum balance, you will receive your Social Security payments electronically, and your maximum service charge will be $3. You will need several forms of identification, including your phone number, paycheck stubs, U.S. passport, driver’s license or state I.D. card to open the account.

The income that Social Security provides for married couples is an important part of each couple’s retirement income strategy.