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Treasury to end paper checks for benefits

Staff Report
Published Nov. 13, 2012

Federal agencies still send more than 86,000 paper checks each month to seniors and other benefit recipients in South Carolina and the U.S. Department of the Treasury is urging them to sign up for other means of receiving their funds before paper checks are ended March 1, 2013.

The federal government is in transition to all-electronic federal benefit payments. March 1 is the deadline to switch to direct deposit or Direct Express debit cards.

"If you or a loved one haven't yet made the switch, please take note of this new law and sign up for electronic payments today," said David Lebryk, commissioner of the Treasury Department's Financial Management Service.

Lebryk said call center agents are available to answer questions and assist seniors and others with the switch.

In South Carolina today, more than 1 million monthly federal benefit payments are already made by direct deposit to a bank or credit union account, or to the Direct Express card. The card allows federal benefit recipients to pay bills, withdraw cash and make purchases without paying check-cashing fees. The money on the Direct Express card is FDIC-insured, and many card services are free, the Treasury said.

"Whether you choose direct deposit or the Direct Express card, you will experience the same benefits of electronic payment: You don't need to go to the bank or credit union to deposit or cash your check every month, you don't have to worry about misplacing your check, and you don't put yourself at risk for having your check stolen," Lebryk said. "Electronic benefit payments also will save American taxpayers $1 billion over the next 10 years."

Check recipients can sign up for direct deposit or the Direct Express card by calling 1-800-333-1795, visiting or talking to their local federal paying agency office.

Anyone already receiving federal benefit payments electronically will continue to receive their money as usual.

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