Several months ago, we wrote about the Social Security Administration’s impending move to electronic payments, which was part of an overall government effort to discontinue all government benefit payments by check. According to the United States Department of the Treasury, moving Social Security Disability and other government benefits to a paperless system will save taxpayers approximately $1 billion over the next 10 years.
In December, the Department of the Treasury published a final rule establishing a process to gradually move federal benefits from paper checks to electronic payments. Under that rule, anyone who applies for Social Security Disability, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans Affairs or any other federal benefits will be required to receive their benefit payments electronically. Currently, eight out of 10 benefit recipients get electronic payments.
Under the rule, the 20 percent that still receive paper checks now have just under two years to make the switch to electronic. On March 1, 2013, all check recipients will begin receiving their payments electronically. Treasury officials say that they will have resources on hand to help recipients make the switch.
The Department of the Treasury says that there are many benefits to a paperless payment system. United States Treasurer Rosie Rios reports that an electronic payment costs 92 cents less than a paper check, which will add up to the predicted $1 billion savings over the next 10 years.
In addition to the cost savings, electronic payments are safer and more secure. In 2010, almost 550,000 Social Security and SSI paper checks were reported lost or stolen, with significant inconvenience to the recipient and cost to the government.
Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury, “U.S. Treasury to “Retire” Paper Check for New Recipients of Social Security and Other Federal Benefits, Saving Taxpayers $1 Billion“, 26 April 2011