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Paper Social Security disability checks to be discontinued in March

If you are among the 5 million or so Americans accustomed to receiving your Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income checks in the mail, a big change is on the way. The Social Security Administration has announced that paper checks for veterans' benefits and Social Security disability and retirement benefits will be discontinued in March.

A few people will be exempt from the change, including people born on or before May 1, 1921. The goal, however, is to encourage all Social Security recipients to make the change by March 1 of this year.

About 93 percent of all Social Security disability, retirement and SSI payments are already being delivered electronically -- either through direct deposit to banks or via Direct Express debit cards, the Treasury Department says. The remaining 7 percent or so, however, are costing the SSA a lot of money it can't afford. Switching everyone to direct deposit or Direct Express could save the government $1 billion over 10 years.

"Given our significantly reduced funding, we have to find innovative ways to continue to meet the needs of the American people without compromising service," explains Commissioner of Social Security Michael J. Astrue.

If you need an exemption from electronic SSDI or SSI payments, the agency does have a waiver program. For example, if you live in a remote area without sufficient banking infrastructure, or if electronic payment of your benefits would result in a particular hardship, you can call 800-333-1795 to request a waiver.

Otherwise, the SSA hopes that everyone receiving paper checks will make the switch. You can do so in one of three ways:

  • Call the Social Security Administration at 800-333-1795
  • Go to your bank or credit union and sign up for direct deposit
  • Visit www.GoDirect.org, the website for Direct Express debit cards

One benefit of switching is that you could save as much as $60 a year in checking fees either by signing up for a Direct Express debit card or direct deposit of your benefits into your bank account.

Source: USA TODAY, "Your Money: Social Security checks get replaced," Susan Tompor, Jan. 23, 2013

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