In a move designed to encourage safer payment transactions and saving American taxpayers more than $1 billion over the next 10 years, the U.S. Treasury officially retired paper check payments to new recipients of Social Security and other federal benefits on May 1, 2011. Current recipients of federal payments have until March 1, 2013 to make the transition to electronic payments. Anyone applying for Social Security, Veterans Affairs or other federal benefits for the first time on or after May 1 must choose an electronic payment option.
New recipients must choose, at the time they sign up for their benefits, to receive electronic payment in the form of a direct deposit into a bank or credit union account or via a pre-paid Direct Express Debit MasterCard. Those choosing to deposit payments into a bank account should have the following information on hand during enrollment: their financial institution’s routing number; account type (checking, money market or savings); and account number.
These changes will impact individuals who apply or receive benefits from the Social Security Administration, Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board, Office of Personnel Management or Department of Labor.
“With 10,000 people becoming eligible for Social Security benefits each day nationwide, this change will be significant. While this issue isn’t specific to Arvest Bank, we recognize that as one of the largest banking companies in the state it makes sense for us to alert all consumers to the impending change,” says Kirk Hays, Arvest’s /sales manager. “According to the Treasury Department, more than 540,000 Social Security and Supplemental Security Income paper checks were reported lost or stolen in 2010. Electronic deposits will safeguard consumers and taxpayers at the same time. Your bank will be able to help you sign up for direct deposit in order to receive electronic payments.”
For detailed information on the new requirements, individuals can also visit the Treasury Department’s Go Direct website at www.GoDirect.org or call the U.S. Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Center’s toll free number, 800-333-1795.