No more mail for Social Security

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Column by Jim Clark

Over the past few years, it’s been obvious that some people have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. Those of us who have websites and e-mails have been part of the effort to educate the public on the use of electronics.
Now the federal government is getting in the act.
As you can read elsewhere, beginning March 1, 2013, the feds will get rid of all paper checks for benefits, including Social Security. No longer will you be rushing to your mailbox on a certain day of the month to get that check and take it to the bank.
You will have a choice. You can either get direct deposit into a checking or savings account or, absent both of those, you can get a prepaid debit card.
This will apply to more government benefit checks besides Social Security. A complete list is in the story that starts today on Page 1.
Frankly, it’s hard to understand why anyone would not want direct deposit. The report of stolen or lost checks, especially Social Security, is astronomical. There is also the convenience of knowing that if you are temporarily unavailable, if you’re sick or out of town, your money keeps flowing into your account, even if you’re not there to cash a check.
One thing that hasn’t been mentioned much, as near as we can find out, is the effect on the U.S. Postal Service. Is this going to be costly to the postal people, who are going to lose a lot of business?
Some might say they want to continue to use cash, and that’s why they cash their Social Security check every month.
That’s fine. Now you can cash one of your own checks every month and still get the cash.
A debit card, of course, is just as good. You take your prepaid debit card to the store, pay for your items, and there’s always a little question on the keypad: “Do you want cash back?” That’s how many of us get cash now without even bothering to go to the bank.
If you’re one of the 90 percent of Social Security recipients who already get direct deposit, nothing will change. But if you’re in that other 10 percent, get ready for some changes.
And please, keep the kicking and screaming down. It doesn’t become you at all.

Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at 352-854-3986 or editor@smcitizen.com.

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