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Less than one year until federal benefits go electronic

While many recipients of federal benefits in Pittsburgh have already switched to paperless, electronic payments, about 10 percent are still receiving paper checks. By March 1, 2013, all Americans who receive federal benefits, like Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income, will no longer receive monthly paper checks.

By eliminating paper checks, the U.S. Treasurer estimates that taxpayers will save more than $1 billion over 10 years. By switching early, federal benefit recipients can help increase that amount. Currently, about 7 million recipients still receive paper statements. In 2010, that number hit 11 million, the highest it has been in recent history.

The treasurer has said that, in this situation, everybody wins. Payments are more convenient, safer and more secure for recipients and cheaper for taxpayers.

The Treasury Department has launched a public education campaign, called Go Direct, to help everyone understand how to make the switch to electronic payments. Recipients can either go to the Go Direct website to make the switch or call the U.S. Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Center. When making the switch, recipients must have their Social Security number or claim number, the amount of their most recent federal benefit check and their 12-digit federal benefit check number.

Recipients can also sign up for the Direct Express card to direct deposit into an existing account at a financial institution. For the latter, recipients will also need their routing number, which can be found on a personal check, as well as their account number and type: checking or saving.

Over the next year, the Treasury Department will be encouraging as many people as possible to receive their federal benefits, including Veterans Affairs and Social Security, electronically. Taxpayers will benefit if the change is made sooner rather than later.

Source: Santa Ynez Valley News, "Feds moving to all-electronic Social Security, other benefit payments," March 8, 2012

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