It may surprise people to learn that the Treasury Department has rather strict guidelines in place concerning how those who rely on the Social Security Disability Insurance program to make ends meet can receive their monthly benefits.
Specifically, the agency dictates that disability benefits -- along with Social Security retirement benefits and veterans' benefits -- can only be paid to recipients via direct deposit into an existing bank account or via a government-issued debit card.
Close to 5.5 million people currently receive their benefits via these debit cards, which are delivered as part of the Direct Express program that is run in conjunction with Comerica, Inc., a Texas-based financial services company.
Interestingly, those enrolled in the Direct Express program may soon be noticing a major difference in the appearance of their cards thanks to the recent actions of the Commander in Chief.
Last month, President Obama signed an executive order calling for all government-issued debit cards to be outfitted with internal chips designed to reduce the likelihood of fraud and ensure "the American people have the basic safeguards that they can count on."
The move toward more secure debit cards was hastened in large part by the recent rash of data breaches at some of the nation's major retailers like Target and Home Deport, and other major financial institutions.
Further influencing the decision was the fact that these chip cards have been in wide circulation in Canada, Asia and Europe for many years.
Those who receive government-issued debit cards via the Direct Express program will likely notice the embedded chip on the front of the card. However, it's important to note that the card will still function the same and continue to be accepted by area merchants.
It's truly encouraging to see the federal government take the necessary steps to help ensure that disabled individuals and their families are provided with the benefits they need and deserve.
Sources: NASDAQ, "U.S. to boost security for government-issued debit cards," Alan Zibel, Oct. 16, 2014; The Denver Post, "Obama announces plan to tighten security on federal debit cards," Oct. 18, 2014