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In 2013, Social Security Checks No Longer In The Mail

Starting next year, the check will no longer be in the mail for millions of people who receive Social Security and other government benefits.

Direct Express card
Direct Express card

The federal government issues 73 million payments a month, but is phasing out paper checks for all benefit programs. So beneficiaries will have to get payments electronically, either through direct deposit or a debit card for those without a bank account.

The changes will affect people who receive Social Security, veterans’ benefits, railroad pensions and federal disability payments.

Tax refunds are exempt, but the Internal Revenue Service encourages taxpayers to get refunds electronically by processing those refunds faster than paper checks.

How the changes in delivering Social Security and other government benefits will work:

–Starting last year, new beneficiaries were required to electronically receive Social Security, veterans’ benefits, railroad pensions and federal disability payments.

–By March 1, 2013, nearly everyone will be required to receive their payments electronically, mainly through direct deposit into a bank account.

–Those without bank accounts will be issued a Direct Express debit card, which will receive payments and can be used for purchases at retail stores and for cash withdrawals at ATMs.

–There will be no fees for debit card purchases but there will be fees for some ATM transactions.

–Beneficiaries who are age 90 or older won’t be required to make the change. Others can apply for a hardship waiver but they will be granted only in “extreme, rare circumstances.”

–The federal government issues 73 million benefit payments a month. About 90 percent of the payments already are done electronically, so about 7 million people will have to make the switch.

–For help or for more information, call (800) 333-1795 or go to godirect.org .

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