|Seniors welcome Social Security direct deposits|
|Friday, February 01, 2013 2:57 PM|
The federal government, which issues 73 million payments a month, is phasing out paper checks for all benefit programs, requiring people to get payments electronically, either through direct deposit or a debit card for those without a bank account.
According to the Treasury Department, electronic delivery of the benefits will save both the government and Social Security an enormous amount of money; the federal government will save $120 million a year and Social Security will save $1 billion over the next decade.
A recent survey taken at the Delphos Senior Citizens Center indicates seven out of eight seniors are currently receiving their Social Security checks through direct electronic deposit into their bank account. Most have used the direct deposit method for 2 years or more and feel that electronic payments are much safer and more efficient than paper checks. In 2010, more than 540,000 federal benefit checks were reported lost or stolen.
Margaret M. Koester has had her check electronically deposited for three years and is comfortable with the process.
Arthur Williams and Ron Bewsey of Delphos think direct deposit is a good idea and for a “bunch” of reasons.
“A lot of people do dishonest things,” Arthur spoke candidly. “Getting my check deposited automatically is a good safety feature.”
“We’ve been married 66 years and my wife is the bookkeeper,” Robert said. “I traveled and was away from home for work until I retired. She took care of that [direct deposit] a few years ago.”
Senior Citizen’s Center Director Joyce Hale believes the change in technology is scary for many senior’s, especially when the change affects what they can or can’t do with their own money. For many, the adjustment from paper delivery of their Social Security check to direct deposit has met some resistance for different reasons. Some don’t have checking accounts and are accustomed to having money — coins and paper — in their pocket or wallet and are secure with carrying cash. Some have sight impairments and can’t see to write out and sign checks. In addition, they like the social aspect of getting out and talking to folks; it is their social network. A visit to the bank for these folks is similar to visiting a Facebook page and posting a blog.
“These generations of people were raised to deal with real money. They have lived in that ‘comfort zone’ for a long time,” Hale spoke with compassion. “Some just don’t feel comfortable writing checks.”
About 90 percent of people who receive federal benefits already get their payments electronically and new beneficiaries were required to get payments electronically starting last year. With a few exceptions, the rest will have to make the switch by March 1.
For those who are already receiving benefits, visit www.ssa.gov/myaccount/ to create new online account or login to an existing account and start or change Direct Deposit online. If computer access is not available, recipients may sign up at their bank, credit union or savings and loan.