In an effort to cut costs, the government previously announced that it will stop sending paper checks to social security, permanent disability and other benefits recipients by March 1 this year. In fact, early in 2011, recipients were informed that they are required to switch their prior accounts to electronic payments; either direct deposit into their bank account or into a U.S. Treasury Department-issued 'Direct Express' debit card.
The switching of account is expected to save printing costs which is said could save at least $1 billion in taxpayers’ money in 10 years. Also, it is also said that it could avoid Social Security checks delivery interruptions caused by unexpected circumstances such as natural calamities. It could be remembered that last November, hundreds of thousands of social security benefit recipients were left waiting for their pay checks due to disrupted mail service brought by Hurricane Sandy.
However, despite the promising advantages of going one-hundred percent electronic, not all recipients welcome the idea of switching into electronic payments for some reason, particularly the elderly. However, in a statement released by the Treasury Department, it pledged that it would not stop sending payments via paychecks to those who ignore or miss the mandatory deadline. No penalties would be incurred as well.
Nevertheless, the department still never loses hope on those people who continue to resist the electronic payment. It claimed that it would pursue on communicating with them in a more direct way.
Meanwhile, retirees aged 92 and older are exempted from the changeover. Moreover, if a beneficiary has a mental impairment, or lives in a remote area and he or she finds it more convenient to continue receiving paper checks, then they are automatically permitted not to switch to the alternative.
In California alone, nearly 6 percent of the 6.5 million Social Security and SSI recipients still get paper checks, according to the Social Security Administration. So far, the state has the largest number of residents receiving benefit checks through mail.
As the said deadline of switching of accounts comes close in a few weeks time, some Los Angeles social security claim lawyers speculated that more recipients and beneficiaries will eventually realize the convenience of switching to the electronic payment.