Social Security Stops The Presses!

On March 1, Social Security and other federal benefit recipients will no longer receive paper checks from the Department of Treasury as the agency switches to an electronic payment system (File Photo)

By Michael P. Neufeld

Mountain Communities – On March 1 Social Security stops the check printing presses!

After that date, the Social Security Administration will stop printing and sending paper checks for Social Security, disability and other benefits. The action is designed to cut costs as the agency will distribute funds electronically, either via direct deposit or on a prepaid “Direct Express” card.

Currently, 93 percent — roughly 65 million — federal benefit recipients receive their payments electronically, but the Department of Treasury reports some five (5) million checks are still being printed and mailed each month. The agency spends about $4.6 million per month to produce, print and mail paper checks.

The agency emphasizes that unlike paper checks that can be lost o0r stolen, electronic payments can be easily traced and quickly restored in the rare instance of fraud.

THE SWITCH

The actual switch, on March 1, to paperless payments was announced in April 2011,. Since that date, all new applicants for federal benefits were required to choose an electronic payment method.

Despite the extensive media campaign to inform federal benefit recipients of the switch, there are some exceptions to the paperless mandate. For example, individuals who are 91 or older can still receive checks by mail.

In addition, individuals who ignore or miss the mandatory March 1 deadline won’t face penalties or be cut off.

We will be communicating with them in a more direct way via letter,” GoDirect campaign manager Walt Henderson stated in a press release. “We can’t stop sending the payments. They depend on them.”

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