Social Security checks will no longer come via snail mail starting March 1.
In less than two months, the government will stop sending paper checks for Social Security, disability and other benefits in an effort to cut costs. Instead, the Treasury Department will distribute funds electronically, either via direct deposit or on a prepaid “Direct Express” card.
Around 93 percent of recipients currently receive their payments electronically, but 5 million checks are mailed each month, according to the Treasury. Paper checks cost the government about $4.6 million per month, CNN Money reported. Over the next 10 years, that total cost to taxpayers would add up to $1 billion.
The Treasury has launched an advertising campaign to get the word out about the March 1 deadline. Those who don’t switch to electronic payments will still receive paper checks, but will be under more pressure to make the change.
“We won’t interrupt their payment, but we will be communicating with them in a more personal direct way,” Walt Henderson, a Treasury official, told CNN.
Not everyone is embracing the end of paper checks. The check cashing industry, which will lose business because of the switch to electronic payments, argues that forcing people to use debit cards could mean more fees and lost money for some of the poorest benefit recipients.