D.C. Unemployment Claimants to Receive Benefits Via Prepaid Debit Cards

WI Web Staff Report | 11/8/2011, 12:56 p.m.
Courtesy Photo

Beginning in December, new recipients of unemployment benefits in the District will receive automatic payments through government-issued prepaid Visa debit cards, according to a statement issued this week by the Department of Employment Services (DOES).

The switch from paper checks will save the District more than $1 million each year, and the personalized debit cards will enable unemployment claimants to have their benefits directly deposited on the cards. Claimants who already receive paper checks will have to decide whether they want the direct deposit or debit card option by the time the program is fully implemented early next month.

Nearly 600,000 checks are issued each year by DOES' Office of Unemployment Compensation. Switching to the debit cards will be more cost-effective, reducing the physical and financial costs of paper, printing and postage as well as delivery of checks.

"DOES is pleased to implement the UI Benefits Card Program in an effort to provide our claimants with a faster, safer, and more cost efficient means to receive and access their unemployment benefits," said DOES Director Lisa Maria Mallory. "By eliminating paper checks, our claimants will save both time and the fees associated with check cashing establishments."

With their Visa prepaid debit cards, unemployment insurance claimants will be able to:

* Access fee-free funds at in-network ATMs

* Make fee-free purchases everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted

* Pay bills using their prepaid debit cards

* Access fee-free cash at Visa member banks

* Access fee-free cash at participating retailers

* Manage their accounts online 24/7

* Access their accounts via toll-free interactive voice response system 24/7