Advocacy

No More Paper Social Security Checks Come March

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) –

Millions of Americans still receiving paper checks for Social Security and other federal benefits have less than two months to switch to electronic payments

In an effort to cut spending, federal officials began retiring paper checks in favor of direct deposits and prepaid “Direct Express” debit cards in May 2011. Since then, the Treasury Department has required all new recipients of payments from federal benefits programs — including Social Security, Supplemental Security Income disability, Veterans Affairs and government pension plans — to sign up for electronic payments. It set a March 1, 2013, deadline for all other recipients to do the same.

Roughly 93 percent of payments are now being made electronically. But about 5 million checks are still mailed each month — representing an additional $4.6 million in monthly costs since each mailed check costs 92 cents more than a direct deposit transfer, Treasury officials said Tuesday. The agency said if it didn’t push for the switch to electronic transfers it would cost taxpayers another $1 billion over the next 10 years.

So now, the agency is urging remaining check recipients to beat the March 1 deadline. The department has partnered with more than 1,800 local, regional and national banks, credit unions, social service agencies and community groups to get the word out through mailings, public service announcements and its web site.

Anyone who fails to make the change will still receive paper checks, but will be the target of more aggressive communication efforts, such as additional mailings, said Walt Henderson, a Treasury official.

“We won’t interrupt their payment, but we will be communicating with them in a more personal direct way,” he said. “After March 1, they are not in compliance.”

California, Texas and New York have the largest number of residents who have yet to convert to electronic payments, with more than 1 million people receiving monthly Social Security and disability checks as of November.

Electronic payments are safer than paper checks, Henderson said. In 2011, more than 440,000 Social Security checks were reported lost or stolen, while $70 million worth of checks were fraudulently endorsed.

“It’s just really the best way to receive your payment,” Henderson said.

Still, electronic payments come with their own fraud concerns.

In September, Patrick O’Carroll, inspector general of the Social Security Administration, told Congress that identity thieves fraudulently redirected seniors’ benefit payments to different bank accounts using stolen Social Security numbers.

To prevent fraud, officials recommend that seniors never provide personal information to unsolicited callers and always check with a local Social Security Administration Office if contacted by someone claiming to be an administration employee. “The government won’t call you asking for information,” Henderson said.

To report suspicious activity, contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 800-269-0271.

To sign up for benefits, recipients can visit www.GoDirect.org, call a toll-free helpline at 800-333-1795 or speak with their local bank or credit union representative.

Recipients must have their Social Security or claim number, 12-digital federal benefit check number and the amount of their most recent federal benefit check. For direct deposit, recipients also will need their financial institution’s routing transit number, (often found on a personal check) account number and account type (checking or saving).

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30 Comments on "No More Paper Social Security Checks Come March"

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Cathey Jester
3 years 8 months ago

Yes they can and will. Hospitals are the worst. They hire high dollar attorneys and that adds 100’s to the bill. I don’t bank because of a small ER visit caused by another person in a car. That person would not pay and I couldn’t so she got away with it and my account was drained to pay bill. No moe banks for me. Bankers, lawyers and most Doctors are crooks.

Charles C. Reynolds
3 years 8 months ago

It’s going to cost you 1% to have it deposited and 2% to take it out! Most of you voted for this so good luck and suck it up

liberty76
3 years 8 months ago

No, only 47% voted for this.

mike
3 years 8 months ago

tTHE TERM “FEDERAL BENIFIT CHECK” WAS DREAMED UP BY PEOPLE WHO NEVER HAD TO WORK FOR A LIVING

Charline Ivey
3 years 8 months ago

Social Security is NOT a federal benefit! It was paid in over many years of hard work. Aggressively correct this misrepresentation when you hear it!

KarenFaye
3 years 8 months ago

True, we paid in during our working years, but the average person collects about $100,000 OVER AND ABOVE what they paid in during their drawing years. Seniors are living much longer these days; so drawing on SSI at a higher rate than in previous years.

Direct deposit is safer – for all involved. As long as you are paid, what do you care if you are mailed a piece of paper that could easily be stolen from you? This president has only begun to “transform” America, as he promised. He won the election and now those who didn’t vote for him will pay the consequences …… Seniors will probably “suffer” more than the rest — after all, we’re expendable.

liberty76
3 years 8 months ago

RIGHT ON!!

bk
3 years 8 months ago

Was I dreaming or did I see somewhere that the Feds would deduct $1.00 from all direct deposited checks.?
Seems like I remember working and paying SS for 40 years to get a Benefit Check.
Heil Hitler!!

Fred
3 years 8 months ago

Eloise,…probably, but, this move isn’t about saving money,… it’s about control, the Feds already control the banks, and they want control of the Internet, and where do you do you banking, many, many Americans use bank cards, instead of cash, because, they’re safer than cash, and it DOESN’T makes sense that a government that is stripping us of so many of our freedoms, would be doing this to save money,…think about it,…so this is about controlling the population with a LIE,…as if we’re stupid!!!

Chet
3 years 8 months ago

Obama will probably use the money saved to fund more abortions.

Pete A
3 years 8 months ago

I agree with Joe L. Social security is not a federal benefit check or a entitlement. Hard earned money is put into this system, which is mandatory, so how about we have the right to opt out of social security and put our monies into our own account. At least we know it will not be raided by the gov for other uses and then gives a IOU which is worh zero. I believe this is just another way the gov will eventually be able to access your accounts, if they wish to. Read the Obama care bill and you will be amazed at what they have signed into law, that takes away many of your rights, in the guise of being good for you.

Virginia V
3 years 8 months ago

I find it very interesting that the government feels we must all be stupid and that we need them to make decisions for us. I agree with Pete, they took our money and then used it without ever paying it back. We’ve worked hard our whole lives, and have been stolen from.

Good Grief
3 years 8 months ago

My Downs Syndrome brother receives SSI through the state of NJ. Occasionally they have problems, but rather than contact me, his guardian, they just stop sending the checks. It is up to me to realize something is amiss and contact them to get to the right person and settle the issue. I see the possibility of overdrawn checking accounts until people realize the monies are withheld.

Good Grief
3 years 8 months ago

My Downs Syndrome brother receives SSI through the state. Sometimes they have problems, but rather than contact me his guardian, they simply hold the checks until I realize something is going on and contact them. With direct deposit, I see the possibility for many overdrawn checking accounts.

Spencer L. Poston
3 years 8 months ago

As I understand it EVERYONE receiving social security benefits will be REQUIRED to have a bank account. This includes rich and poor, senior citizens, single moms, the unemployed as well as the homeless. Am I right?

This begs the question, why can this requirement be applied by rule and yet it is considered by the liberal right to be an unequal burden on senior citizens, single moms, the unemployed and the homeless to require, by law, all persons wishing to vote present an acceptable means of identification. Could it be that people will make every effort to keep getting their money but not to vote. This is clearly a typical double standard.

liberty76
3 years 8 months ago

This is a sneaky ploy so the feds will now have access to every taxpayer’s accounts. I suggest you set up a separate account that will only be used for these kinds of transactions and as soon as they deposit you should transfer the money out. Likewise, if you owe only put that amount in an account separate from all your other accounts so not a dime more can be taken. Don’t link this account to any other account. I do this with all on-line purchases so if a hacker, and the federal government is the ultimate hacker, gets into the account they can only take a limited amount.

Melanie
3 years 8 months ago

No you are not correct. Anyone without a bank account will receive prepaid debit cards. Didn’t you read the article? It is in there.

legal conservative
3 years 8 months ago

Well now, this from the administration that said we can’t disenfranchise the elderly and poor??? IF these people didn’t have a pictured ID, how did they get SS in the first place??? We all heard the fuss about disenfranchising the voters because we expect pictured ID, now HOW did the elderly open a bank account to cash these checks? hmmmmmm

KarenFaye
3 years 8 months ago

Obama won the election by his fancy lawyers protesting “photo I.D.” for voters was discrimination. Why is this not discrimination of the elderly??? The argument can go on and on – but direct deposit will be the rule.

We’ll all be lucky if SSI is solvent for more than the next five or six years. At a rate of 11,000 a day, more and more are going on SSI Disability — most when they’re unemployment runs out. Someone needs to clamp down on the doctors who are authorizing this!!! I see these slugs every day enjoying life while spending their benefits, using thir EBT cards, and free cell phones, while the seniors paw through the reduced for clearance produce at the grocery stores. Our country will NEVER be the same after another 4 years of Barack Obama.

Virginia V
3 years 8 months ago

I agree total with your statement Karen.

Peter
3 years 8 months ago

This is also another saying: A cart BEFORE the horse!

Marjorie Wood
3 years 8 months ago

What about the reciprieint who is mentally incapable of receiving payments in this fashion?

Dave
3 years 8 months ago

If he is that incapable, How does he cash the check he has been receiving?

Ernette Haring
3 years 8 months ago

The solution to going paperless is very simple. Just deduct the cost of mailing from the check. We have to pay postage for any other deliveries or orders. Also I think a lot of fraud will be uncovered when forced to open a bank account.

M C
3 years 8 months ago

Excellent idea!

BobbyD
3 years 8 months ago

Good. I believe this action by a liberal administration marks the beginning of the end of the US Postal Services. The USPS is nothing more than an expensive, tax payer funded delivery system for junk mail.

Melanie
3 years 8 months ago

Yes, they give a discount in postage for hose who put junk in my mailbox that goes right into the recycling bin. Yet, first class postage continues to rise.

PaulE
3 years 8 months ago

Good public information notice for all,

Joe L.
3 years 8 months ago

What’s a “Federal Benefit Check”. I’m suprised at the use of this terminology in a conservative publication!

Eloise
3 years 8 months ago

Can creditors reach into your checking account and take out money?

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