Social security

Where are social security checks mailed from?

Find out where Social Security checks are mailed from, and the specific days when you can expect to receive Social Security payments.

3 min read

When you apply for benefits, you can expect to start collecting benefits checks once your claim is approved. Social Security sends payments on specific days of the month depending on your date of birth. Knowing where Social Security payments are sent from and the timing can help you manage your benefits better.

Social Security no longer mails checks to Social Security beneficiaries as a benefits payment method. However, there is still a handful of recipients who receive paper checks in the mail, while 99% of recipients receive benefits electronically. For people who still receive paper checks, the checks are mailed from the US Department of Treasury’s Financial Management Systems (FMS). The specific location may vary depending on where you live and the Social Security office that handles your benefits.

Where do I send a Social Security check back to?

If you receive a Social Security check that was sent to you in error or if you no longer need the funds, you should return it to Social Security. You should mail it to the Social Security address: SSA, 6401 Security Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21235-6401.

When returning a check by mail, you should include the check, a copy of the letter/notice that accompanied the check, and a brief explanation of why you are returning the check. If you deposited the check you want to return, you should contact your bank immediately to request a reversal. If the check was cleared and you had withdrawn the funds, you will need to refund the Social Security the full payment.

Also, instead of mailing the check to Social Security, you can take it to the local Social Security office. You can use Social Security's office locator to find the nearest field office to your ZIP code.

How are Social Security checks paid?

Social Security no longer mails Social Security checks to beneficiaries. Social Security started phasing out paper checks in May 2011, and people receiving Social Security and other federal benefits were required to choose an electronic payment method i.e. direct deposit and Direct Express debit card.

If you choose the direct deposit option, Social Security will deposit payments directly into your bank account. Payments are received on time and they are deposited directly into your account. You will be required to provide your bank account number, type of account, and the bank’s routing number. This eliminates the risk of checks getting lost in the mailbox or getting lost in transit.

You can also choose to receive payments through a prepaid card known as the Direct Express Debit MasterCard. This option lets Social Security deposit payments directly to the prepaid card, and you can use the funds to pay bills and make withdrawals in the same way as a debit card. A prepaid card is a good option if you don't have a bank account.

How do I change Social Security to direct deposit?

If you receive Social Security benefits, you can switch the payment method to direct deposit. Before getting started, make sure you have your Social Security Number and your bank account details – account number, routing number, and bank account type.

Log into your My Social Security account, go to your profile page, and input your direct deposit information. You can set the change to take effect immediately or at a specific future date. You can also switch to Direct Deposit through the US Treasury’s Go Direct website or by calling 1-800-333-1795.

You can also call the toll-free Social Security number at 1-800-772-1213. This is an automated service, and you will be asked to provide your current direct deposit routing number, account type, and account number to update your payment method. If you are unable to update your payment method online or via phone, you can visit the local Social Security office in person and request help to update your payment record.

Why paper checks were phased out

When Social Security was established, paper checks were the only method of payment that was available to beneficiaries. Printing and mailing millions of paper checks was expensive for Social Security, especially due to the growing number of beneficiaries. Also, there was a risk of checks getting lost in the mailbox or getting into the wrong hands.

With the emergence of electronic payment processing methods, Social Security introduced electronic payments as an alternative to paper checks. Electronic payments are fast, convenient, and safe, and they are cheaper to administer than checks. Social Security made it mandatory for newer beneficiaries to receive payments via electronic payments while existing beneficiaries were required to shift to electronic payments.

Although newer Social Security recipients never had the option to receive paper checks, there are a significant number of recipients who have been on Social Security for a long time and still have benefits mailed to them. As of March 2023, there are about 499,539 recipients across the 50 states and territories who receive paper checks, against 65, 182,809 who receive payments electronically.