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Robert Longley

Electronic Benefit Payments Deadline Nears

By January 14, 2013

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People still getting their federal benefit checks in the mail have until March 1, 2013 to switch to one of the two required electronic federal benefit payment options, warns the Treasury Department.

With the March 1 deadline now less than two months away, the Treasury Department is urging persons still receiving Social Security and other federal benefits by check to not delay in visiting their GoDirect website or calling 1-800-333-1795 to arrange to receive their benefits by either direct deposit or a Direct Express Debit MasterCard card.

The Direct Express card offers the advantages of direct deposit without requiring a bank account and is an option for those who prefer a prepaid debit card backed by the Treasury Department.

There is no charge to switch to either electronic payment option and persons already receiving their federal benefit payments electronically are not affected by this change.

The new electronic payment-only requirement applies to benefits from: the Social Security Administration -- including Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) - payments; Veterans Affairs; Railroad Retirement Board; Office of Personnel Management (OPM); and Department of Labor (Black Lung benefits).

Also See: Top Federal Assistance and Benefit Programs


"Choosing direct deposit or the Direct Express card makes it easier, safer and more convenient for beneficiaries to receive their payments. Switching to an electronic payment is not optional - it's the law," said David Lebryk of the Treasury Department's Financial Management Service in a press release. "If you or a loved one still receives paper checks for your benefit payments, now is the time to switch. It's free and easy - just call 1-800-333-1795 or visit www.GoDirect.org."

Persons who fail to select one of the electronic payment options by March 1, 2013, will receive their benefit payments via a Direct Express debit card.

About 93% of Social Security and SSI benefit payments are already being made electronically. The Treasury Department estimates that converting the remaining paper check recipients to electronic payments will save taxpayers more than $120 million a year.

According to the Treasury Department, more than 540,000 Social Security and Supplemental Security Income paper checks were reported lost or stolen and had to be replaced in 2010 alone.

"You don't have to worry about your check being lost or stolen and your money is available immediately on your payment date," said Social Security commissioner Michael J. Astrue in a press release. "There is no need to wait for the mail to arrive."

Also See: Do You Qualify for Federal Benefits?


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