If you are one of the 90% of Social Security recipients who already received your payments electronically, this recent policy change by the federal government did not affect you. However, if you are among the 10% who were getting a Social Security, veterans' benefit, railroad pension or federal disability payment by check, you needed to make arrangements to accept those payments electronically. If you are new to Social Security, you will have to decide which electronic method you prefer for receiving your benefits.
How to Receive Your Social Security Benefits Electronically
There are two ways to receive your payments. You can either have them direct deposited into your bank account, or you can ask to be sent a debit card and the federal government will deposit your funds onto the debit card each month.
There are significant advantages to the federal government with these changes. First, the government saves about $120 million a year by not being required to deal with paper checks. Social Security will save approximately $1 billion per decade. This procedure for electronic payments is also safer for individuals. In 2010, over 540,000 federal benefit checks were reported lost or stolen.
However, for some elderly people who do not have bank accounts or who are not used to electronic payments, there could be some difficulty getting used to handling their benefits electronically. Those individuals will receive a debit card and they will have to use it to get cash from a bank or use it to make purchases. Although there will be no charge to make purchases, the bank can charge them a fee for cash withdrawals.
If you have an elderly parent who may be impacted by the changes, you can get more information at 1-800-333-1795 or at the government website, http://www.godirect.org/.
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