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Federal Employees and Other Federal Payment Recipients Use of Direct Deposit/Electronic Funds Transfer

Treasury regulations established to carry out the DCIA provisions allow payment recipient to continue receiving paper checks if electronic deposit would cause a hardship. The regulations emphasize recipient choice and the importance of ensuring that recipients are not forced into choices that are not right for them.

The term "federal payments" includes federal wage, salary, retirement payments, employee expense reimbursements, benefit payments and vendor payments. Federal tax refund payments are excluded.

Direct Deposit of payments through EFT has become increasingly popular because it is safer, more secure and, for most recipients, more convenient than paper checks. EFT will significantly improve the way Americans receive their government payments. Additionally, EFT will enable the government to achieve significant cost savings and therefore save money for taxpayers.

Treasury is working with federal paying agencies to ensure that payment recipients know what choices they have under this regulation and can choose whatever payment option is best for their particular circumstances. Under this regulation, broad categories of waivers allow recipients to continue receiving paper checks. Waivers are designed to be self certifying, payment recipients will make their own decision as to whether or not to sign up for direct deposit. Federal agencies will have discretion whether to require recipients to submit written waiver certification.

If you are currently receiving your Federal payment by check or you have just become eligible to begin receiving a Federal payment, you have several choices:

  1. Receive your payment by Direct Deposit through the financial institution of your choice.

    The Government makes payments electronically through a program called Direct Deposit. Direct Deposit is a safe, convenient, and reliable way to receive your Federal payment through a financial institution. (A financial institution can be a bank, credit union, savings bank, or thrift.) Many financial institutions offer basic, low-cost accounts in addition to full-service checking or savings accounts.

  2. Do nothing now and wait for a basic, low-cost account, called an ETA , to become available.

    If you do not have an account with a financial institution, you do not need to do anything now. In the future a low-cost account, called an ETA , will be available at many financial institutions. Like Direct Deposit, the ETA (which stands for Electronic Transfer Account) is a safe, convenient, and reliable way to receive your Federal payment through a financial institution. You are eligible to open this account, at a low monthly fee, if you receive a Federal benefit, wage, salary, or retirement payment. Your paying agency will contact you and let you know when the ETA is available and which financial institutions in your area offer the account.

  3. Continue to receive a check.

    If receiving your payment electronically would cause you a hardship because you have a physical or mental disability, or because of a geographic, language, or literacy barrier, you may receive your payment by check. In addition, if receiving your payment electronically would cause you a financial hardship because it would cost you more than receiving your payment by check, you may receive your payment by check.

Any payment recipient who does not have an account at a financial institution will receive an automatic waiver from the EFT requirement until Treasury provides notice that an account meeting its specifications is available to the recipient (see "Access to Accounts Specified by Treasury" below). Once that account is available, those payment recipients will be able to decide whether they wish to sign up for one of those accounts or continue receiving a paper check.

The Treasury Department emphasizes that no payment will be withheld or delayed for any reason related to the implementation of EFT.

As mentioned earlier Treasury is working to develop a low-cost account that will be offered through federally-insured financial institutions for electronic receipt of federal payments. This account will be known as the Electronic Transfer Account (ETA). Individuals who receive government payment would be able to select an ETA at any participating institution. The ETA will be available to all payment recipients, regardless of whether the recipient has an existing account at a financial institution. Characteristics of the ETA will be made available in the Federal Register when they are complete.

Please contact your paying agency customer service representative if you would like more information on Direct Deposit, the ETA, or hardship waivers.

For further information on the EFT 99 Project, visit the Bureau of the Fiscal Service.

Employee Express

You may be able to eliminate the paperwork hassles and process your own salary payment conversion to direct deposit / EFT by utilizing USDA'S Employee Express. Employee Express empowers Federal employees to process some of their own payroll forms.

The system can be accessed by touch-tone telephone, and Netscape version 3.0 (or higher) on the Internet. For security reasons, cellular or digital telephones are not recommended. To access; dial: 1-800-827-6291 or (912)757-3086 or the website address, Hearing impaired should call the TDD number at (912)757-3117. The system is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

Last Updated / Reviewed: December 20, 2023