Monday, February 25, 2013

Why Some Social Security Beneficiaries Aren’t Sold with the Electronic Mode of Payment

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Starting March 1, 2013, the Social Security will stop sending most paper Social Security checks via mail to beneficiaries. What will happen is that recipients will have to switch to the electronic mode of payment, in which they’d either have to sign in for direct deposit using a bank account or through a debit card issued by the Treasury Department.

Said date is not too far from now. In fact, any beneficiary who fails to make the switch to electronic payments before March 1 may force the Department to send the monthly benefits through a Direct Express card program. That way, there would be no interruption on the flow of payments.

For the Social Security Administration (SSA), the transition from the print to the digital form of sending monthly benefits is a way to cut down huge costs, especially with the usage of paper in mailing out checks. Moreover, this switch from paper to electronic payments would lessen the occurrences of lost or stolen checks, therefore protecting the monthly benefits every beneficiary receives.

While millions of Social Security recipients in the U.S. have already switched from paper to electronic payments long before the March 1 deadline, there are still a small number of them who still stick to the paper checks they regularly received on their mailboxes. Many senior citizens, to be specific, are not too impressed with the idea.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based organization Consumers for Paper Options president Paul Runyan, many of the senior citizens who have been content with having their Social Security checks mailed don’t have any access to financial services. He asserted that they must be given due consideration, and that they should not be forced to switch to electronic deposits, which, for seniors, are uncomfortable and may possibly confuse them.

Fortunately for the SSA, it won’t penalize recipients who may miss the March 1 deadline, saying that it won’t stop sending them paper checks. However, the federal agency may have to ask them to have a pre-paid debit card that is credited every month with their monthly payments.

Incidentally, Los Angeles Social Security claim lawyers think that it would be for the best interest of the recipients to sign up for the electronic payments right away before the deadline.


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