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Senior Lifestyles

Attention caregivers: Federal benefit checks going all electronic

1/3/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

By March 1, the U.S. Department of the Treasury will pay all federal benefit payments electronically, and federal benefit recipients still receiving paper checks will be required by law to choose an electronic payment option.
Photo courtesy of ARAcontent
More than 65 million people provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or elderly family member or friend, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving. In addition to providing emotional and physical support, caregivers often are entrusted to help their loved ones carry out financial decisions.

If you care for someone who receives Social Security or other federal benefit payments by paper check, you may need to help him or her to make an important financial decision. By March 1, the U.S. Department of the Treasury will pay all federal benefit payments electronically, and federal benefit recipients still receiving paper checks will be required by law to choose an electronic payment option, either direct deposit or the Treasury-recommended Direct Express®Debit MasterCard® card.

Caregivers balance multiple roles and responsibilities. Electronic payments eliminate the hassle of getting to the bank to cash or deposit a care recipient’s check. It usually takes less than 10 minutes to make the switch to electronic payments, and the recipient’s federal benefit payment automatically will be deposited into his or her account or onto the Direct Express® card on payment day each month.

Last year, more than 440,000 Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks were reported lost or stolen. Protecting personal financial information is another important way to prevent identity theft and stolen benefit payments. Speak with your care recipient about keeping this information private and not sharing it with strangers — especially those who call over the phone. The Treasury Department will never call to request your Social Security number or bank account information. Your loved one should not share this information unless he or she initiates the call.

You can help your care recipient switch his or her federal benefits payment to an electronic option online at www.GoDirect.org or by calling the U.S. Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Center toll-free at 800-333-1795. Make sure your family member or friend has the following information on hand when making the switch:

• Social Security number or claim number;

• 12-digit federal benefit check number;

• amount of most recent federal benefit check;

• financial institution’s routing transit number; and

• account number and type — checking or savings.

You also can help your loved one contact the federal benefit agency office or financial institution to switch to direct deposit.

 

The preceding information was provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service. The Go Direct® campaign is sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banks. The Direct Express® logo, Go Direct® and Direct Express® are registered service marks, and the Go Direct logo is a service mark of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service. The Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card is issued by Comerica Bank, pursuant to a license by MasterCard International Inc. MasterCard® and the MasterCard® brand mark are registered trademarks of MasterCard International Inc. This article was provided courtesy of ARAcontent.

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