If you are on Social Security or has a parent on Social Security play close attention: come March 1 the U.S. Treasury Department will no longer issue paper checks. The federal government’s “Go Direct” campaign is an effort to save taxpayers $1 billion over the next 10 years. With only two months to go, the Treasury department continues to mail more than 5 million paper checks each month to beneficiaries.
The “Go Direct” campaign began in December 2010 targeting recipients of payments from federal benefits programs — including Social Security, Supplemental Security Income disability, Veterans Affairs and government pension plans. Roughly 93% of payments are now being made electronically, but with 5 million checks still being mailed mailed each month the government is spending an additional $4.6 million in monthly costs since each mailed check costs 92 cents more than a direct deposit transfer.
Converting to electronic payments won’t just save the government money, it could potentially save you a headache as well. According to CNN Money, more than “440,000 Social Security checks were reported lost or stolen, while $70 million worth of checks were fraudulently endorsed” in 2011.
Check recipients can sign up for direct deposit or the Direct Express card where money is deposited onto a debit card, by calling toll-free 1-800-333-1795, visiting www.GoDirect.org, or talking to their local federal paying agency office. The process is fast, easy and free.
You will need the following to sign up:
- Your Social Security number or claim number,
- 12-digital federal benefit check number
- Amount of their most recent federal benefit check
- Financial institution’s routing transit number, (often found on a personal check) account number and account type (checking or saving).
If you do miss the March 1 deadline, you’ll still be paid, but do expect government officials to contact you directly to sign up for direct deposit or the debit card. If there is someone elderly in your family who might not be comfortable with this process, go over and lend them a hand.