Money Talks, So Should You

Are you ready for Social Security benefits to go paperless?

Anyone getting Social Security or other federal benefits through paper checks has until March 1 to switch to another system.

Bill Hardekopf
by Bill Hardekopf (@lowcards)

NEW YORK ( — Anyone getting Social Security or other federal benefits has until March 1 to switch to electronic payments or prepaid debit cards.

In a cost-saving measure, the government started a program in May 2011 to eventually eliminate the paper checks distributed for Social Security, Veteran Affairs, Supplemental Security Income and other government programs. According to Treasury officials, a mailed check costs the government 92 cents more than a payment made by electronic transfer.

Eligible recipients were required to move to direct deposits or the prepaid debit cards called "Direct Express." They have until March 1 to make this switch.

READ: Is Social Security really "exhausted?" Not at all

More than 90% of these payments are being made electronically. The government is still mailing more than 5 million checks each month, though, costing an estimated $4.6 million. These consumers now have less than two months 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.

Recipients who need help switching to electronic payments can visit a special website or call the Go Direct call center at 800-333-1795.