Social Security goes electronic

Published 9:43 pm Saturday, January 26, 2013

Only about a month remains until Social Security beneficiaries will be required to receive payments by direct deposit, but nearly 19,000 recipients in Hampton Roads still are receiving their money by mail.

“Switching to an electronic payment is not optional — it’s the law,” said David Lebryk, commissioner of the U.S. Department of the Treasury Financial Management Service. “If you or a loved one still receive paper checks for your benefit payments, now is the time to switch.”

The Treasury Department in December 2010 published a final rule to phase out paper checks for federal benefit payments. New applicants since May 1, 2011, have always been on one of the electronic options, but those who were receiving benefits before that must switch over.

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The change will save American taxpayers $1 billion during the next 10 years, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Matt Flauter, financial center leader and branch manager for BB&T, said receiving benefits electronically will be more convenient and secure for recipients.

“They get it quicker,” he said. “It’s guaranteed to be in there that morning and ready to be spent, and it reduces the likelihood of theft of checks from mailboxes.”

Check recipients can sign up for direct deposit or the Direct Express card by calling 1-800-333-1795, by visiting or by talking to their local federal paying agency office. There are no sign-up fees or monthly fees to receive benefits electronically.

Following are some tips to make the process smoother:

  • Gather the necessary information before making the phone call or heading to the office.
  • Individuals need their Social Security number or claim number, their 12-digit federal benefit check number and the amount of their most recent federal benefit check. If choosing direct deposit, recipients also will need their financial institution’s routing number, account number and account type.