Choice: direct deposit or debit card
(Cleveland)--Starting March 1, the federal government will be phasing out paper checks for benefit payments, such as Social Security, SSI, veterans' payments and wages for federal employees. Anyone who is not receiving such benefits through direct deposit will have to get those payments through a debit card.
David Rothstein of the research institute Policy Matters Ohio tells WTAM 1100 that based on their calculations, as many as 25 percent of Ohioans who receive federal payments are underbanked. That means they either don't have a checking or savings account, or they go to check cashing businesses or payday lenders. Those are the people, Rothstein says, who are most likely to be affected.
Rothstein says many senior citizens may not have direct deposit of their Social Security checks, because they think you have to have a checking account. He says direct deposit can also work with a savings account.
As for those who don't have a bank account, they'll receive information with their paper checks on how to obtain their payments in the future through a debit card. Rothstein says it'll have the MasterCard logo and can be used like one at stores and ATMs.
Some people will be able to opt out of electronic deposits of their federal accounts. According to Rothstein, it'll be those born before March 1, 1921, those who are mentally impaired, and those living in a remote area that doesn't have the infrastructure to support electronic financial transactions.
Rothstein is quick to point out that this does not affect federal income tax refunds. Those will still be available by paper check if the recipient wishes.
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