Paper Social Security checks to end March 1
Call it Treasury's “Seven Percent Solution.”
The Treasury Department says it soon will stop sending paper checks to those 7 percent of all Social Security recipients who still get their payments in the mail — prodding them into setting up electronic delivery of their monthly benefits.
In Pennsylvania, 180,563 people receive their monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in paper form. Nationally, the figure is about 5 million.
Treasury's solution to convert those paper hangers-on comes March 1, when the department starts disbursing Social Security and other federal benefit payments only by direct deposit into recipients' checking or debit-card accounts.
Recipients who have not already done so must provide to Treasury their bank account and bank routing numbers before March 1 so the government can deposit their money directly into personal accounts each month, said Treasury official Walt Henderson.
To convert from paper, recipients should call Treasury's Go Direct call center at 800-333-1795. Have an old check handy, if possible, because the call center representative will ask for information found on the government-issued check.
“If a person has a bank or credit union account, they can easily set this up,” said Henderson, who is d irector of the electronic fund transfer strategy division of Treasury's Financial Management Service, which is trying to cut overhead.
In fact, 93 percent of recipients have done so, out of the about 65 million Americans who receive Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits each month.
A paper payment costs Treasury about $1 to issue, said Henderson. But an electronic payment costs about 10 cents. Treasury estimates going paperless will save about $1 billion in administrative costs over the next 10 years.
“I don't think it will affect that much of the older population. The majority of (seniors) already have direct deposit,” said Rena Becker, executive director of Weinberg Terrace, a person-care facility in Squirrel Hill operated by the Jewish Association on Aging.
“Direct deposit is safe. And instead of cashing a check at a bank, this is a smarter way to go,” said Becker. “I think people have bought into that for a long time.”
Henderson said those without bank or credit union accounts may obtain a Direct Express card. It is a MasterCard debit card attached to accounts administered by Comerica Bank, which credits card holders' accounts with their monthly benefit amount from the government.
“The Direct Express prepaid card is very widely accepted, everywhere a MasterCard is accepted,” Henderson said.
Thomas Olson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7854 or at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Nonprofit Concordia Lutheran Ministries adjusts to marketplace realities
- GNC will expand its testing of supplements in settlement with NY
- Stocks gain on encouraging signs in spending and home sales
- Consumer spending inches up in February as income soars
- Venting online about job protected
- Falling demand for steel not likely to reverse any time soon
- Increased credit card use reflects confidence, flat wages
- UnitedHealth bulks up for prescription drug cost fight
- U.S. shale drillers try to keep costs competitive with oil from abroad