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(ARA) – Disasters can happen suddenly and without warning. When severe weather strikes, you want the comfort of knowing you’re ready for the worst.

As you make emergency plans – including storing essentials like water, food and other supplies – the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the American Red Cross encourage you to make certain your money is disaster-ready, too. If you receive a Social Security payment by paper check, consider switching to direct deposit.

Safer, more reliable

Direct deposit is the safest, most reliable way to receive a federal benefit payment.

“Nine times out of 10, when there is a problem with a Social Security payment, it is with a paper check, not a direct deposit payment,” says David A. Lebryk, commissioner of the Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service.

Eight in 10 Americans say direct deposit is more reliable in the event of a disaster, according to Treasury Department research. Yet, about 10.5 million senior citizens, people with disabilities and others still get their Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments by paper check each month – opening themselves up to delays and other check-related problems.
Lessons from the front lines

“The American Red Cross touches millions of lives each year – people depend on our volunteers and employees during many types of disasters,” says Scott Conner, American Red Cross senior vice president, Preparedness and Health and Safety Services. “If you lose mail service or are evacuated in the aftermath of a severe weather event – be it a tornado, wildfire, earthquake or flood – the last thing you should have to worry about is your federal benefit payment being delayed when you need it most.”

In the case of Hurricane Katrina, for example, federal benefit recipients living along the Gulf Coast were within days of receiving their next payment when the hurricane made landfall. Tens of thousands of emergency payments had to be issued to evacuees, while those who were already using direct deposit had immediate access to their funds from virtually anywhere through automated teller machines and financial institution networks.

In recent years, severe weather has caused alternative delivery arrangements for millions of Social Security and SSI paper checks.

Direct deposit is automatic

With direct deposit, your money is automatically deposited to your bank or credit union account on payment day. You’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your money is there for you when you need it, no matter the weather.

It’s easy to switch

Take one simple step today to prepare for a natural disaster by switching to direct deposit for your federal benefit payments. Making the switch is easy through the Treasury Department’s Go Direct (R) campaign toll-free helpline, 1-800-333-1795, or website, www.GoDirect.org.

If you prefer a prepaid debit card option, consider signing up for the Treasury-recommended Direct Express (R) Debit MasterCard (R) card. The Direct Express (R) card is a safe, easy alternative to paper checks, and no bank account is required. There’s no sign-up fee, no credit check and no monthly fee. Some fees for optional services may apply. To learn more about fees and features, call 1-877-212-9991 or visit www.USDirectExpress.com.

The preceding information has been provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service. The Go Direct (R) campaign is sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banks. The Direct Express (R) Debit MasterCard (R) card is issued by Comerica Bank, pursuant to a license by MasterCard International Incorporated. MasterCard (R) and the MasterCard (R) Brand Mark are registered trademarks of MasterCard International Incorporated. The Go Direct (R) logo, Direct Express (R) logo and Direct Express (R) are registered service marks of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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