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3 On Your Side: Deadline To Sign Up For Electronic Federal Benefit Payments

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- For millions of Americans who receive money from the government for things like Social Security or veterans benefits, the postal carrier is a welcome sight at the beginning of every month.

But that will soon be a thing of the past. As 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan reminds us, the U.S. Department of Treasury is going paperless. The move is supposed to save taxpayers $1 billion over 10 years, but that now means that benefit recipients have a decision to make.

If you're one of the five million people that get a monthly benefit in the form of a paper check from the U.S. Treasury, you have until March 1st to choose an electronic form of payment. Your money can be directly deposited into your bank or credit union account or, if you don't have an account at a financial institution, you can sign up for a debit card called a Direct Express Card.

To sign up for direct deposit to your checking or savings account you'll need to have several things handy:

- Your Social Security number or claim number.

- Your bank or credit union routing number.

- Your account number and type, whether that's checking or savings.

You'll also need two bits of information from your most recent benefit check. They are:

- Your 12 digit federal benefit check number.

- The amount of the most recent benefit check.

If you opt for the Direct Express Card instead of direct deposit, you'll just need the last two items. Again, that would be:

- Your 12 digit federal benefit check number.

- The amount of the most recent benefit check.

You can sign up for electronic payments online at or by calling 1-800-333-1795.

Retirees who are 92 or older are exempt from the changeover, and beneficiaries can also get a waiver if they have a "mental impairment" or live in a geographically remote area.

While the government doesn't have the authority to switch people over to direct deposit without their permission, if you don't make switch to electronic payment you should expect a flood of letters from the Treasury trying to convince you to make a selection.

For more information, visit:

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