Q: My husband and I started receiving Social Security this summer. We plan to spend most of the winter in Arizona. Is there any need to change the bank where our benefit payments are received?
A: In addition to security, another value of direct deposit is that your Social Security benefits arrive on time and are available immediately, whether you out of town for the day or the winter.
There is no need to change the savings, checking or other account used for your Social Security direct deposit unless you want to. Do what is best for you.
If you choose to change bank accounts, allow up to about 60 days – approximately two checks – for benefits to be directed to the new account. This is due to computer processing times and the different Social Security payment dates during a month. A letter is sent to you by surface mail when the direct deposit bank account changes.
NOTE: Protect yourself against identity theft. If you receive a letter about changes to your direct deposit, but have not made any changes, contact Social Security immediately.
When changing your direct deposit, it is very important to keep the old bank account open until your benefits are actually received in the new account.
A related topic to consider is the address you plan to use for regular mail. If desired, you can change your Social Security mailing address for letters, with or without changing the financial institution where benefits go. A mailing address change processes quickly since it involves only internal Social Security records, and not coordination with the Treasury Department as does a direct deposit change.
Q: Also, if need arises when we are away from home, which Social Security office should we contact, our home office or the Arizona one?
A: Any Social Security office or telephone center can access your record to answer questions or make updates to your record. Within the agency, local office service areas are based on zip code but you can contact any office, or call the national telephone center. Do what is most convenient for you.
The national toll-free telephone number, 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-0778, connects to Social Security telephone centers across the country. Designed for high phone volume, SSA representatives are available for you to speak with between 7:00am – 7:00pm, local time.
Based on zip code, local office information is here. Expect questions to confirm your identity when speaking with any Social Security representative.
The Social Security website, www.socialsecurity.gov, has online services for people receiving benefits and lots of program information. Linked from the homepage, the Social Security website has a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section and search engine for your use.