WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of the Treasury is retiring the paper Social Security check, a move expected to save taxpayers $1 billion over the next 10 years.
Beginning May 1, anyone newly applying for Social Security, Veterans Affairs or other federal benefits will need to choose an electronic payment method – paper checks will no longer be an option. People currently receiving their federal benefits by paper check must switch to direct deposit by March 1, 2013.
“More than 18 million baby boomers are expected to reach retirement age during the next five years, with 10,000 people a day becoming eligible for Social Security benefits,” said U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios. “It costs 92 cents more to issue a payment by paper check than by direct deposit. 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.”
In addition to the taxpayer savings, officials noted that electronic payments are safer and more convenient than paper checks. Last year alone, more than 540,000 Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) paper checks were reported lost or stolen and had to be replaced.
People newly applying for federal benefits on or after May 1, must choose an electronic payment option at the time they sign up for their benefits. If they wish to direct their money into a bank or credit union account, they will want to have the following information on hand at the time they apply for their benefits:
- Financial institution’s routing transit number (often found on a personal check)
- Account type – checking or saving
- Account number (often found on a personal check)
People who prefer receiving their payments on a prepaid debit card or who do not have an account at a financial institution can receive a Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card. For more information, visit www.GoDirect.org.
Current check recipients must switch to electronic payments before March 1, 2013. Visit www.GoDirect.org, call the U.S. Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Center’s toll-free helpline at 1-800-333-1795, or by speak with a bank or credit union representative for more information.
Anyone already receiving federal benefit payments electronically will continue to receive their money as usual on their payment day. No action is required.
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