According to the USA Social Security Administration, almost 58 million Americans will receive $821 billion in Social Security benefits in 2013. The breakdown is spread among retired workers, disabled workers, dependents, and survivors.
In a related story from FoxBusiness, 5 million Americans still receive their benefit payments by paper check. Beginning March 1, 2013, that's due to change when paper checks for U.S. government benefits will be phased out and be replaced by its Go Direct campaign. The 5 million retired and disabled people have had eight years to voluntarily switch from paper to the Go Direct campaign.
The change to electronic payments comes courtesy of the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration and other federal agencies that pay out benefits. The call has gone out for the 5 million Americans receiving Social Security benefits by paper check to enroll by direct deposit or sign up to get their money loaded into Direct Express.
The shift to Go Direct will save taxpayers more than $100 million a year, and eliminate theft of paper checks from mailboxes. But it comes with challenges, including confusion and physical difficulties for the elderly and disabled.
Walt Henderson, director of the Go Direct campaign for the U.S. Treasury, admitted to FoxBusiness that the electronic switch-over is sensitive for a lot of older people who are still on the learning curve with electronic payments. "There's a lot of misconception that they have to get a computer or have to get on the Internet," he commented. "It really doesn't change anything except they have to make one less trip to the bank."
Social service workers have remarked that it makes keeping track a lot easier, but that some senior citizens feel stressed without a check in their hands and fear money can be stolen through digital payments. Then there's always the fear on identity theft.