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 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,deadline for all other recipients to do the same.
New Social Security recipients are now either forced to use direct deposit or receive debit cards from which they can draw funds electronically. This electronic debit option is known as Direct Express.
Treasury attempted in to force all federal benefits recipients to switch to direct deposit or Direct Express debit cards, but had to abandon this effort after many seniors and other Americans refused, or were unable, to make the transition.
Still, many made the switch under protest, and struggle with managing and accessing their benefits electronically. While some recipients will adapt, there are others who are frankly uncomfortable with financial institutions or the direct deposit process, have concerns about privacy and cyber security, or simply do not have a bank account.
If this policy stands, seniors who have long physically deposited their checks will evenutally be forced to switch to electronic banking. They face difficult - and potentially costly - choices. In addition, debit cards carry ATM fees-levying a new tax on those who can least afford it.
The lives of many senior citizens, already struggling to adapt to the new digital world, are being further complicated. Our seniors are not reassured by daily stories of data security breaches at major financial institutions, the ease with which thieves can steal both debit cards and pin numbers, or the potential complications and inconvenience of lost debit cards.
Not All Citizens Can Easily Adapt While the government is under pressure to reduce costs, it cannot assume that all citizens are equally adept at utilizing electronic transactions and navigating ATM machines, PIN numbers or Internet security.
Providing a paper check option is important for seniors who are not adept at online transactions.
Fees for ATM services, paper statements and funds transfers are all new charges that will accumulate for seniors who are least able to afford the extra costs. Here is a quick review of the fees associated with the new Direct Express card: Surcharge by ATM owner may apply.
Giving seniors the option to receive Social Security checks will make their lives easier and protect them from a variety of discriminatory fees.We are retiring the Social Security paper check option in favor of electronic payments because it is the right thing to do for benefit recipients and American taxpayers alike." The Treasury Department published a final rule in December , to gradually eliminate paper checks for federal benefit payments.
My understanding is that Treasury and the Social Security Administration are not collecting information on this group of folks, of applicants who are not receiving their payments electronically, and we are not yet sure why they continue to want paper checks.
In Nevada, more than 20, paper Social Security checks and more than 7, paper SSI checks are issued each month, according to the Treasury Department, and eliminating paper checks would save. It turns out the checks will still be showing up in the mail after all.
The U.S. Treasury, which announced it would no longer be sending Social Security, Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement and. The Federal Laws Protecting Social Security Benefits began a phase-out of paper checks in favor of direct electronic deposits, and on March 1, , discontinued issuing paper checks.
New Rules For Social Security Recipients. According to the Social Security Administration, if you have applied for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits after May 1, then you are required to receive those payments electronically; in other words you must submit your bank information so that your benefits may be directly deposited instead of paper checks.