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Banking Alternatives for Dedicated Savings Accounts

September 1, 2008

Author: Catherine M. Callery (Kate)| Louise M. Tarantino

As DAP advocates know, retroactive benefits for children’s SSI cases must be put into a Dedicated Savings Account (DSA) and used for extraordinary items related to the child’s disability.  Since SSA will not pay any retroactive benefits until the DSA is established, what can representative payees do if they have a bad bank history and cannot find a financial institution that will accept their account?

This question showed up on the DAP list serve recently, and the responses provided a tremendous source of information. Read on!

As we reported in the March 2008 Disability Law News, SSA started a pilot project in four Southern states that offers the option of claimants receiving their Social Security or SSI benefits in the form of a prepaid debit card instead of a paper check. The targeted audience for the debit card use is beneficiaries who do not have or cannot open bank accounts. Claimants can call 1-(877)-212-9991 or go to for more information. The Consumers Union has also put together a FAQ sheet, available at  Although this program is not yet available in New York, SSA expects nationwide rollout later in 2008.

Another option is to open an Electronic Transfer Account (“ETA”) at an ETA Provider bank. An ETA is a low-cost bank account where a recipient can receive Federal payments each month by direct deposit. The claimant's credit worthiness is not an issue. To find an ETA Provider bank in a claimant’s area, call 1-(888)-382-3311 or go to for more information.

It was recommended that a claimant should open two accounts as above: (a) one as a dedicated savings account used exclusively for the retroactive award in and (b) one for the ongoing monthly payments.

Lastly, Credit Union accounts can also be used for setting up a DSA.

Now we are all a lot wiser about advising our clients on the options available to them in setting up a DSA.


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