System glitch leaves thousands without access to benefits

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - People in Kentucky and all across the country were met with error messages and notices of unavailable funds when they attempted to use their government benefits on their Direct Express cards early Monday morning.

We spoke to cashiers and clerks at local stores, including the Walmart on Russell Cave Road and the Speedway at Euclid and Woodland, who told us that people were having problems using the government benefits that were supposed to have deposited onto their cards on July 1st. Whether trying to withdraw cash from an ATM or use it as a debit or credit card while checking out, their transactions were denied.

The problems with the government benefit cards are not limited to Central Kentucky. Posts on Twitter this morning showed people across the country frustrated with being unable to use their Direct Express cards, and phone calls we made to Direct Express, MasterCard, and the Comerica bank through which the cards are issued confirmed that they were receiving a high volume of calls from card-holders who were having issues. We were told the problem was based on a "system glitch" but should be resolved by 8AM.

Millions of Americans nationwide rely on government assistance in the form of social security, supplemental security income, disability payments, and other government benefits.

According to a government website, as of March 1, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Treasury required all federal benefit and non-tax payments to be made electronically. Recipients would get that monetary assistance by direct deposit into bank accounts, or loaded directly onto the Direct Express debit cards.

The clerk at the Speedway at Euclid and Woodland told WKYT's Sean Evans that since the shift change around 4:00 AM, there have not been any more issues.

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