Utah News
2:33 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Social Security Making the Transition to Paperless Benefits

The U.S. Treasury Dept. is going "paperless," so anyone who now receives a benefit check needs to arrange to have it deposited directly into their bank or loaded onto a debit card, like this one. Courtesy of U.S. Treasury.

It's been at least two years in the making, and as of March 1, federal agencies such as Social Security officially make the transition to "paperless" benefits. But millions of people,  including some in Utah,  still haven't made the arrangements for the switch.

The March 1st deadline is approaching for anyone who receives Social Security, S-S-I payments or veterans' benefits by mail. To save money, the federal government wants to make all its payments electronically. That means a direct deposit into a bank account, or onto a debit card. If there's a senior in your life, it's a good time to ask them if they've let Social Security know how they want to receive their benefits – or help them with the transition. And Cristina Martin Firvida with A-A-R-P says while it's important to get it done, don't worry too much about the deadline.

She says a bank or credit union can help arrange for direct deposits or a debit card. It can be done online, at 'godirect.org,' or by calling the Treasury Department at 800-333-1795. A-A-R-P also has information about making this transition on its website, at 'aarp.org.'

With a debit card, Martin Firvida says there are a few important questions to ask. Find out about the fees for using the card ... whether there's a good network of A-T-M machines so you can get cash when you need it ... and whether a debit card is practical for paying bills. All banks and credit unions offer debit cards – and now, she says, the U-S Treasury has a card too, just for this purpose.

And A-A-R-P is warning people that with any change, there are always scams that crop up. Martin Firvida says if you are called or emailed with reminders about the deadline or asked for personal information to help make the switch, hang up or press "delete".