Electronic payment deadline looms for federal benefit checks

More than 50,000 federal benefits paper checks are delivered to Oklahomans each month, even though a deadline to switch to electronic payments or a debit card is less than two weeks away, federal officials said Tuesday.
BY BRIANNA BAILEY bbailey@opubco.com Published: February 20, 2013
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Tens of thousands of Oklahomans who receive federal benefits have yet to switch from paper checks to electronic payments, although the deadline to do so is less than two weeks away.

The U.S. Treasury Department reported Tuesday that it still processes about 54,000 monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income payments for Oklahomans via paper check. The federal government is giving seniors and other federal benefit recipients until March 1 to switch to direct bank deposit or to the Direct Express card — a prepaid debit card that allows recipients to pay bills, withdraw cash and make purchases without check cashing fees.

The Treasury already processes more than 777,000 monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income payments for Oklahomans electronically.

“By switching to direct deposit or the Direct Express card, you will receive your money in a safer, easier and more reliable way,” David Lebryk, commissioner of the Treasury Department's Financial Management Service, said in a statement. “With electronic payments, your check can't be stolen out of your mailbox, and you don't need to go to the bank or credit union to deposit or cash your check every month. It's in your account on time, every time.”

Eliminating paper checks and switching benefit payments to electronic transfers will save taxpayers $1 billion over the next 10 years, the Treasury estimates.


by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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