Paper Social Security checks bite the dust this week

Previous posts on this blog have discussed the Social Security Administration’s upcoming transition to only distributing benefits electronically. Now, this change is nearly here. This Friday, March 1, marks the deadline for transitioning to electronic benefits. The change applies to a range of benefits distributed by the SSA including Social Security disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income.

While the Social Security Administration has been working to spread the message about this change for a while, more than 4 million paper benefits checks are still distributed nationwide. In Pennsylvania, nearly 200,000 paper checks are still distributed each month. Many of these Pennsylvanians receiving paper checks live in Allegheny, Westmoreland, and Fayette counties.

Pennsylvanians still receiving paper checks need not worry that their benefits will disappear after March 1 if they have not signed up for an electronic payment method. Recipients will continue to receive benefits in the mail, and will be contacted by the SSA to switch to electronic payments or apply for a waiver.

A person may be eligible for a waiver if, for instance, he lives in a rural area with few banks or has certain impairments. In addition, anyone born before May 1, 1921 is not required to switch to electronic payments.

Anyone who has not transitioned to electronic payments yet may be happy to know that access to a computer is not necessary for receiving benefits electronically. Recipients can choose to have benefits directly deposited into a bank account or credited to the Direct Express Debit MasterCard.

This process of transitioning to a new method of receiving disability benefits may be challenging for some. However, it might also simplify the process of receiving benefits, as it eliminates having to go to the bank to deposit a benefits check.

Source: Tribune-Review, “Seniors, advocates uneasy about Social Security switch,” Craig Smith, Feb. 25, 2013

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