When the Check Really Isn’t in the Mail

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“The check is in the mail.” It is an excuse for delays that we have all heard and maybe even used before. However, beginning this spring the use of this six-word sentence should drop precipitously. March 1, 2013 is deadline the U.S. Treasury Department has set for recipients of the following benefits to sign up for electronic payment: Social Security, Supplementary Security Income, Veterans benefits, and federal government pension checks. Recipients who began receiving benefits after May 2011 are probably already enrolled in electronic payment. For those who are not familiar with this payment arrangement, the Treasury would like you to sign up before March. If you don’t, your friends at the Treasury will continue to mail paper checks, but they will kindly (and repeatedly) ask you to sign up for electronic payment.

Payment recipients can either have their checks direct deposited into their bank account or have the funds electronically deposited to a Direct Express debit card. Waivers from electronic payment are available for the following recipients: those born before 5/1/1921, those with mental disabilities or those who live in remote areas with insufficient access to the internet. For details on signing up or requesting a waiver, you can visit Godirect.gov or call the toll-free helpline at 1-800-333-1795.

Once you enroll in electronic payment, check to ensure the amount deposited is accurate. If the amount differs from what you expect, contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. Remember, as mentioned in our 4th quarter 2012 newsletter, Social Security recipients should see a 1.7% cost-of-living increase in 2013 checks.

Be sure to never provide personal information to unsolicited callers and always check with a local Social Security Administration Office if contacted by someone claiming to be an administration employee. The government will not call you asking for information.1

As a reminder for those paying into Social Security, you can check your benefit statement anytime at My Social Security. Your wealth management team at Woodward Financial Advisors in Chapel Hill recommends reviewing your Social Security statement at least annually and confirming that your earnings record looks accurate.

1.“No more paper Social Security checks come March.” January 9, 2013. Melanie Hicken’s article in CNN Money.

About Austin Brown

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