Countdown to all-electronic Social Security payments begins

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(ARA) - The U.S. Department of the Treasury is encouraging recipients of Social Security and other federal benefits to switch from paper checks to electronic payments ahead of the March 1, 2013, deadline. On that date, all people who receive federal benefits, including Social Security, must get their monthly payments via direct deposit into a bank or credit union account or on a Direct Express(R) Debit MasterCard(R) card. The switch to electronic payments will save taxpayers $1 billion over 10 years.

Safe, secure, required

"As this deadline approaches, we're urging the remaining 10 percent of federal benefit recipients who still receive a paper check to make the switch to electronic payments as soon as possible," says Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios. "The switch to electronic payments is a win-win for federal benefit recipients and for taxpayers. It provides a safer, more secure, more convenient way for Americans to access their federal benefits, while also improving government efficiency and delivering more than $1 billion in savings. The sooner everyone makes the switch, the sooner we'll realize those benefits."

The Treasury Department published a final rule in December 2010 to gradually eliminate paper checks for federal benefit payments.

Since May 1, 2011, all people newly applying for federal benefits, including Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, Office of Personnel Management benefits and other non-tax payments, have had to choose direct deposit or a Direct Express(R) card when they sign up for the benefit. March 1, 2013, is the final deadline by which all remaining federal benefit check recipients must receive their money electronically.

Ninety percent already use direct deposit

For the first time in recent history, the number of monthly paper check payments for Social Security, Veterans Affairs and other federal benefits has dropped to approximately 7 million. Currently, about 90 percent of Social Security and SSI payments are being made electronically, up from 85 percent in December 2010.

"We've come a long way in informing Americans that direct deposit is a faster, easier and more reliable way to receive their money, but there is still more work to do," Rios says. "We are continuing that strong commitment to public education, aggressively reaching out to check recipients with information about how to easily make the transition and helping them through the change."

Make the switch today

Federal benefit recipients can switch to electronic payments online at or through the U.S. Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Center toll-free at 1-800-333-1795. It's free to switch and takes less than 10 minutes.

The preceding information has been provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service. The Go Direct(R) campaign is sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banks. The Direct Express(R) logo, Go Direct(R) and Direct Express(R) are registered service marks, and the Go Direct(SM) logo is a service mark, of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service. The Direct Express(R) Debit MasterCard(R) card is issued by Comerica Bank, pursuant to a license by MasterCard International Incorporated. MasterCard(R) and the MasterCard(R) Brand Mark are registered trademarks of MasterCard International Incorporated.