Social Security goes paperless, saves money

April 29, 2011 at 7:43 AM ET

The Social Security Administration is saying goodbye to the paper check.

Beginning Sunday, anyone who signs up for Social Security benefits will have to choose an option for receiving their payments electronically.  

The two major choices for electronic payments are direct deposit, in which the government directly transfers your payment into your bank account, and a Direct Express card. That’s a debit card that automatically will be loaded up with your payment each month and doesn’t require a bank account.

The Direct Express card won’t carry a monthly fee, although you may be charged fees for certain transactions. You can find details on potential charges here.

If you are currently getting your Social Security checks by mail, you will need to switch to an electronic payment method by March 1, 2013.

The move is aimed at saving the approximately $120 million a year that the Social Security Administration currently spends on paper checks. The Social Security Administration also estimates that it will save 12 million pounds of paper in the next five years.

The SSA estimates that more than 54 million Americans will receive $730 billion in benefits this year.

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