DETROIT - For decades senior citizens and others who receive Social Security payments would wait for that check to come in the mail. Those days are just about over. The government is phasing out paper checks in favor of direct deposit or a Direct Express Debit card.
About 5 million people nationwide still receive paper checks, but the government is hoping to move them over to the other system by March.
Michigan is one of the states with the highest number of people still receiving paper checks.
Many people in California, New York, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina are also still receiving the traditional checks.
A spokesman for the U.S. Treasury Department told USA Today 11 million paper checks were sent out two years ago, so the number has been cut dramatically.
Some Exceptions For Senior Seniors
We all know many seniors still like making that trip to the bank. The government says there will be exceptions made for people who were born on or before May 1, 1921. They will still be able to receive paper checks if they'd like to do so.
What Happens In March
For seniors who do not switch over by March, the U.S. Treasury will send letters offering to help those people change to direct deposit or the debit card. They say they will not interrupt payments, or switch over to a new payment method automatically.
The Direct Express Debit card is designed for people who do not have bank accounts. The Direct Express card has been used by more than 3 million people since it was introduced in June 2008. About two-thirds of those people did not have bank accounts when they signed up for the card.
How do you make a switch? Call 800-333-1795 or visit www.GoDirect.org. Or if you have an account at a bank or credit union, go there to sign up for direct deposit.
Some consumers could save $5 a month or more in checking fees.