In April 2010, the U.S. Treasury Department announced a plan to stop issuing paper checks on behalf of the government, except in a very limited number of cases, by March 1, 2013. Agency officials expected the switch to save the federal government approximately $300 million in the first five years and more than $100 million annually after that.
A little more than six months from now, that switch will be complete and nearly every Oregon resident who receives Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability benefits will start getting their monthly payment via an electronic transfer into a bank account, a credit union account or a federal Direct Express MasterCard debit card account.
While no one enjoys having their choice taken away, the new direct deposit requirement is definitely a positive development in at least two important respects.
On one level, Oregon residents who currently receive disability benefit payments via the U.S. Postal Service will no longer have to worry about their checks being stolen, lost in the mail or delayed due to weekend or holiday delivery constraints. On another, the inconvenience that comes with having to take a paper check to a bank or credit union — or for those without such accounts, the fees charged by check cashing companies — will also be eliminated.
Although paper checks will still be issued in a limited number of hardship cases, the number of available waivers will decrease over time.
If you are currently receiving your monthly disability benefits payment by paper check and have questions about the switch or would like to apply for a hardship waiver, call the Social Security Administration’s national number (1-800-772-1213), visit your local Social Security office or contact a Social Security Disability attorney.
Source: U.S. News & World Report, “Social Security Will Soon End Paper Checks,” Phil Moeller, Aug. 15, 2012.