Get A Social Security Check? Treasury Says It’s Time To Go Electronic

By February 19, 2013NPR News
  U.S. Treasury checks are run through a printer. William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

U.S. Treasury checks are run through a printer. (Image by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Every month, the government sends out about 5 million checks to Americans who receive federal benefits. On March 1, the Treasury Department is making those paper checks a thing of the past.

Since May 2011, all new Social Security recipients are required to get direct deposit of their benefits. Some 93 percent of all recipients now do.

But there are still holdouts, so the Treasury Department started a campaign and a website, Go Direct, in an effort to convince the remaining 7 percent.

The department is prodding people to switch for one big reason: cost. Treasury spokesman Walt Henderson says the government will save $1 billion over 10 years by not having to print paper checks.

“It costs us about a little over a dollar to issue a paper check. It costs us 10 cents for an electronic payment,” he says. “There’s the postage, the production and the cost of the paper and so on that won’t be needed with electronic payments.”

The government wants all benefit recipients to switch to electronic payments, including those who get Social Security, veterans benefits and federal employee retirement checks. Folks who don’t will still get their checks, Henderson says, but they’ll also get some personalized attention from Treasury.

“We won’t interrupt the payment. We want to see how many people comply and reach out to people in a more direct way through the mail and see if we can assist them in complying with the requirement,” he says.

As an alternative to direct deposit, recipients can get debit cards, although there are fees.

AARP has another worry. “We’re very concerned about fraud,” says Cristina Martin Firvida, the senior lobby’s director of financial security.

“To be fair, fraud is a problem whether you have a paper check or whether you have direct deposit or a debit card,” she says. “Changing from a check to debit card merely changes the schemes for the fraud.”

Firvida says AARP is in talks with the Treasury Department over how to increase safety for the debit cards.

The department says debit cards and direct deposit are actually more secure than paper checks, which get stolen and fraudulently endorsed.

 

Read Original Story

Get A Social Security Check? Treasury Says It’s Time To Go Electronic

Recent headlines

  • dollar bill money macro

    Per diems driving special session costs

    Lawmakers who represent areas outside Juneau receive $295 for each day of the special session. Juneau lawmakers receive $221.25 per day.
  • Caroline Hoover proudly pins an Alaska Territorial Guard medal on the front of her father's parka during an official discharge ceremony held Oct. 17 in Kipnuk, Alaska. David Martin is one of three surviving members of the Alaska Territorial Guard's Kipnuk unit. A total of 59 residents of Kipnuk, who volunteered to defend Alaska in the event of a Japanese invasion during World War II, were recognized during the ceremony. Kipnuk residents who served with the Alaska Territorial Guard from 1942-1947 were members of a U.S. Army component organized in response to attacks by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. (Photo by Jerry Walton, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs cultural resource manager and native liaison/public domain/Wikimedia Commons)

    16 Alaska Territorial Guard vets to be honored in Anchorage

    Sixteen veterans of the Alaska Territorial Guard will be honored at a discharge ceremony today. Four of them are from Western Alaska.
  • Don Andrew Roguska looks out from an upstairs window of an historic Juneau house he bought in 2016 to restore. Zoning regulations have prevented him from rebuilding in the same style. (Photo by Jacob Resneck/KTOO)

    Juneau mulls relaxing zoning rules for historic houses

    The historic houses in Juneau and Douglas were predominately built by miners and fishermen long before today's zoning was put into place. That's prevented homeowners from restoring or rebuilding homes in these neighborhoods without running into conflict with the city's zoning laws -- a temporary fix may be on the way.
  • Young joins Afghanistan war skeptics in Congress

    Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young wants to know why Americans are still fighting in Afghanistan. He has co-sponsored a bill that would end funding for the war in a year, unless the president and Congress affirm the need for it.
X