Social Security to Change Check Delivery System

April 24th, 2012

First: Don’t worry–you will still receive your Social Security benefits. The only change will be the method of delivery.

According to an article on WRAL.com, the federal government will be phasing out paper checks for all benefit programs, including Social Security, veterans’ benefits, railroad pensions, and federal disability payments. By next year, everyone will receive their payments electronically, either through direct deposit to a bank account, or onto a debit card.

About 90 percent of people who receive benefits already get them electronically. This change won’t affect those payments; it is only a push to get that hold-out 10 percent away from paper payments. The Treasury Department says that the switch will save the U.S. government about $120 million per year; Social Security will save about $1 billion over the next decade.

Some senior advocates claim that the change will pose a hardship to older people who are accustomed to dealing with a check:

“Treasury acknowledges they have a lot of education to do for people about how these things work,” said David Certner, legislative policy director for AARP. “We’re a bit concerned about how easy it’s going to be to provide education, particularly for some in this older population who are not familiar with debit cards and don’t have bank accounts.”

On the other hand, the director of the Treasury Department’s electronic funds transfer division, Walt Henderson, says that electronic payments are safer and more efficient:

“You think of that paper check floating out there in the delivery system, with personal information on it, it’s much more susceptible to fraud versus an electronic payment,” Henderson said.

Indeed, in 2010, about $540,000 in benefit checks were reported lost or stolen.

While the government is hoping for universal adoption of electronic payments, there is a recognition that some people may not be in a position to easily make the switch. People who are 90 years old or older won’t be required to change, and people can get a waiver if they can demonstrate that using a debit card would impose a hardship.

To read the full article on WRAL.com, click here:  Don’t wait for SS check in the mail

To learn more about this issue and how to arrange for direct deposit, visit the Treasury Department’s Go Direct website here: http://www.godirect.org/