The U.S. Department of the Treasury has a new rule requiring all federal benefit and non-tax payments to be paid electronically.
Anyone currently receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will need to switch to an electronic payment option by March 1.
People already receiving benefit payments electronically do not need to take action. They will continue to receive their payment as usual on the payment day.
“The two main reasons this is happening is electronic payments are safer than paper checks,” said Tepricka Morgan, Treasury Department spokesperson. “What we saw in 2011 was there were about 440,000 paper checks for Social Security and SSI which were reported lost or stolen. And, about $70 million in treasury checks were fraudulently endorsed. We realized by sending the payments electronically it eliminates the risk of lost or stolen payments.”
Morgan said currently in Harlan County there are more than $2,450 per month in Social Security (SS) and SSI payments still being mailed paper checks.
She said approximately 80 percent of Harlan County residents have already converted to the electronic payments. However, the remaining 20 percent need to go electronic before the March 1 deadline. In Bell County, more than $1,110 per month, or approximately 10 percent of those receiving Social Security and SSI benefits, are still being mailed paper checks.
“The rule goes into effect in March, so actually, all April payments will be sent electronically,” said Morgan.”The Treasury Department is urging Social Security and other federal benefit recipients to not delay and switch now to either direct deposit to a bank or credit union account of their choice or to a Direct Express Debit MasterCard account. Those who do not choose an electronic payment option at the time they apply for federal benefits or those who do not switch by the deadline will receive their benefit payments via the Direct Express card, so they will not experience any interruption in payment.”
Morgan said a Direct Express Debit MasterCard is a prepaid card with a MasterCard brand. She said anyone receiving federal benefits is eligible for this free card and all they need to do is call 1-800-333-1795 to sign up for the card.
“We will then send the card to them and their next payment will be automatically loaded onto that card on their regular payment date,” said Morgan. “This will eliminate the need of them opening a checking account at a bank.”
To sign up for electronic payments you may call toll-free 1-800-333-1795 or visit www.GoDirect.org. You may also talk to your local Social Security office. There is no charge for this process.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at email@example.com