Prior to October 1, 1989, there was no time limit on the negotiability of government
checks. The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) retained copies of negotiated checks
for 6 years and 9 months after the issue date, accepted nonreceipt claims for 6 years
after the issue date, and if the endorsement was forged, held the presenting bank
liable for return of the funds for 6 years after the issue date.
As of October 1, 1989, Public Law (P.L.) 100-86 and the Competitive Equality Banking Act of 1987 (CEBA), made a Treasury check valid
up to 12 months from its issue date. After 12 months, a check is void and non-negotiable.
If Treasury records do not show the check as “cashed” within one year from the issue date, Treasury returns the
funds to SSA in the form of a Limited Payability (LP) credit in the 15th month after
the issue date. Non-receipt claims must be filed within 12 months from the issue date.
Treasury has identified and cancelled all outstanding checks issued prior to October
1, 1989. Public Law (P.L.) 100-86 also limits the amount of time Treasury can reclaim funds paid on forged checks to
NOTE: This law only applies to checks. It does not affect direct deposit payments.
If someone presents a check over 12 months old to a financial institution (FI) (which
the FI may refer to as a stale dated check) and the FI honors it by mistake, the Federal
Reserve Bank (FRB) will not reimburse the presenting FI. Following the holder in due
course procedures, the FI must accept all checks less than 12 months. If someone cashes
a check near the end of the month in which the check becomes 12 months old, and the
banking system does not process it before the end of that month, the FRB will not