2013-01-17 / Lifestyles

Seniors, others reminded to switch paper checks

March 1 deadline for direct deposit or card

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury recently reported five million checks continue to be mailed to federal beneficiaries each month. With just two months remaining until the March 1, electronic payment law goes into effect, the Treasury Department is urging Social Security and other federal benefit recipients to switch now to either direct deposit or the “Direct Express Debit MasterCard” card.

“Choosing direct deposit or the “Direct Express” card makes it easier, safer and more convenient for beneficiaries to receive their payments. Switching to an electronic payment is not optional, it’s the law,” said David Lebryk, commissioner of the Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service. “If you or a loved one still receive paper checks for your benefit payments, now is the time to switch. It’s free and easy, just call (800) 333-1795 or visit www.GoDirect.org.”

Currently, approximately 93 percent of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments are being made electronically. Converting the remaining paper check recipients to electronic payments will save American taxpayers $1 billion over the next ten years.

The Treasury Department published a final rule in December 2010 to gradually phase out paper checks for federal benefit payments. Since May 1, 2011, all people newly applying for federal benefits, including Social Security, SSI, Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, Office of Personnel Management benefits and other non-tax payments, have had to choose direct deposit or the “Direct Express” card at the time they sign up for their benefits. March 1 is the final deadline by which all remaining federal benefit check recipients must receive their money electronically.

The Treasury Department’s “Go Direct” public education campaign is working with more than 1,800 partner organizations throughout the country to spread the message about the electronic payment rule and educate federal benefit recipients about their options. The campaign has developed and shared a variety of public service announcements, educational videos, check inserts and other materials to explain how electronic payments work and how to make the switch from paper checks. The videos and materials are available on the Go Direct campaign website at www.GoDirect.org.

“The Treasury Department has taken great strides to support and guide check recipients through the change to electronic payments, and we’re increasing our efforts significantly in the final two months before the deadline,” Lebryk said.

Check recipients can sign up for direct deposit or the “Direct Express” card by calling toll-free (800) 333-1795, visiting www.GoDirect.org, or talking to their local federal paying agency office. The process is fast, easy and free.

By taking a few minutes to gather the necessary information ahead of time, most federal benefit recipients can sign up for electronic payments with one phone call.

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