Deadline to sign up for electronic disability payments is March 1

Since May 2011, the government has been trying to cut spending by encouraging Social Security recipients to have their monthly payments deposited directly into their bank accounts or to have their payments loaded onto prepaid debit cards each month instead of receiving their benefits in the mail.

The U.S. Treasury Department has stated that mailing out checks every month costs millions of dollars. To reduce spending, the government began warning Social Security recipients months ago that all recipients will eventually be required to have their payments delivered electronically.

Although about 93 percent of recipients do receive their payments electronically now, the government says that millions of Americans have yet to sign up for direct deposit transfers, and the deadline to do so is coming up quickly. Beginning, March 1, 2013, all recipients of Social Security disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income benefits, Veterans Affairs payments and government pension plans must be signed up to receive their benefits electronically.

Since about 5 million Americans have yet to receive their Social Security benefits electronically, the government says that it pays about 92 cents to mail recipients their checks each month. This totals to about $4.6 million every month in costs to mail checks. The government has stated that anyone who fails to set up to receive payments electronically by March 1 will not be in compliance with government benefit programs; however, recipients should also know that if they are not signed up in time to receive their disability benefits electronically, their benefits cannot be terminated or delayed.

Some folks may have been putting off having their checks delivered electronically simply because they like to receive paper checks, but in order to avoid any potential problems with the Social Security Administration, folks should consider getting this taken care of before the deadline is here.

After setting up direct deposit transfers, SSDI and SSI recipients and their caretakers should keep a close eye on bank statements to make sure their benefits are being deposited into their accounts each month. Although electronic payments can help to prevent recipients from having their checks stolen or illegally endorsed, recipients could still become victims of fraud if they don't carefully monitor their accounts each month.

Source: CNN Money, "No more paper Social Security checks come March," Melanie Hicken, Jan. 9, 2013

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