Federal benefit recipients required to switch to electronic payment
WASHINGTON — With just two months remaining until the electronic payment law goes into effect March 1, the U.S. Treasury Department is urging Social Security and other federal benefit recipients not to delay and switch to either direct deposit or the Direct Express Debit MasterCard card now.
“Switching to an electronic payment is not optional – it’s the law,” said David Lebryk, commissioner of the Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service.
Currently, approximately 93 percent of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income payments are being made electronically, but the Department of the Treasury has reported 5 million checks continue to be mailed to federal beneficiaries each month.
Converting the remaining paper check recipients to electronic payments will save American taxpayers $1 billion during the next 10 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. 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. “We have a team of friendly, helpful agents standing by at our call center, and many financial institutions, caregivers, senior services providers and advocates for people who are homeless or have disabilities have the necessary information and resources to help federal benefit recipients make the switch.”
Check recipients can sign up for direct deposit or the Direct Express card by calling 800-333-1795, visiting www.GoDirect.org or talking to their local federal paying agency office. The process is fast, easy and free.
By gathering the necessary information ahead of time, most federal benefit recipients can sign up for electronic payments with one call.
Individuals will need their Social Security number or claim number, their 12-digital federal benefit check number and the amount of their most recent federal benefit check. If choosing direct deposit, recipients will need their financial institution’s routing transit number which is often found on a personal check, account number and account type: checking or saving.
There are no sign-up fees or monthly fees to receive benefits electronically.