By John Michaelson
Minnesota News Connection
A big change is on the way for those Minnesotans who still receive paper checks for their Social Security benefits.
Maribeth Farringer, an advocate for seniors, says as of March 1, all federal payments will be made electronically.
“That includes Social Security, Supplemental Security Insurance, veterans’ benefits,” she said. “All federal payments will be done electronically.”
In Minnesota, more than 47,000 people still receive their monthly Social Security and SSI payments via a paper check.
Farringer says those who still receive paper checks, have several options for setting up their electronic payments.
“They can go online at godirect.org,” she said. “They can do it in person, if they’re going to have the money deposited into a checking account at a bank or credit union. Or they can go by phone to the Treasury Department, and that number is 1-800-333-1795.”
Recipients can either choose to have their benefits deposited directly into a bank account or can receive them on a Direct Express Debit MasterCard.
Farringer says there are concerns with the debit card method — including the fear that some may think it’s a credit card solicitation and throw it away.
“Another concern with the debit card, making us think this is not the best option for everyone, is they will only be allowed four transactions without a fee,” she said. “After that, there will be a small fee for each additional transaction within a month.”
There is also a fee if the card is lost and needs to be replaced. The change to all-electronic payments is expected to save the government $1 billion over the next 10 years. It’s also expected to help cut down on theft of benefit checks.