Paper checks for Social Security recipients will very soon be a thing of the past.
The Social Security Administration - as well as the Veterans Administration - announced March 1, 2013 as the end date for paper checks which many recipients are used to getting through the mail.
For years, the SSA has tried to get recipients to voluntarily transfer to electronic deposits, and they have finally taken the next step and made it a requirement.The organization has expressed that this switch will not only bring an end to the theft of paper checks, but should save taxpayers millions each year.
Those who currently receive paper checks are asked to either enroll in the direct deposit program, which will send monthly checks directly into the recipient’s checking account, or sign up for the Direct Express prepaid debit Mastercard, which will have the funds loaded onto it each month.
The prepaid card is the perfect solution for those recipients who do not have a bank account, and the cards are accepted anywhere a MasterCard debit card is accepted. Cardholders can also get cash at ATMs or cash back from retailers with the card. They will, however, have to watch carefully for fees associated with ATMS and may find that these cards are not accepted by pay-at-the-gas-pump machines.
Anyone wishing to sign up for the debit card can do so online at GODirect.org or by calling the Treasury Department at 1-800-333-1795.
Those who have not yet made the switch can rest assured that their checks will not stop coming in the mail after the March 1 deadline, according to Cristina Martin Firvida, director of financial security for AARP’s Government Affairs Division.
Martin Firvida said, “They will continue to receive their benefit. This is so important to reassure everyone: their benefit will still come in the mail after March 1.”
Anyone who has not made the switch by then, however, can expect to receive requests through the mail that they either enroll in direct deposit or sign up for the debit card.
Walt Henderson, with the U.S. Treasury was recently quoted as saying “When discussing this, we were sensitive to the fact that a lot of older people may not be comfortable with electronic payments. There’s a lot of misconception that they have to get a computer or have to get on the Internet. It really doesn’t change anything they’re doing except they have to make one less trip to the bank.”
The AARP is warning those effected by the switch to watch out for potential scams aimed at electronically stealing their benefits. Martin Firvida explained that any emails or phone calls that ask for personal information related to Social Security checks should not be answered.
“Don’t give that out,” Martin Firvida said, “No one from SSA is going to ask you for that kind of information by phone or by email. You should never respond to those kinds of inquiries.”