March 1 direct deposit deadline looms to convert federal payments to electronic

Time is running out for Callaway County residents who are still receiving Social Security or other federal benefits by paper checks.

Only 39 days remain until the federal law mandating the change to electronic payments is effective. The monthly Social Security check issued in February will be the last before the March 1 deadline for the change. The number from that check will be needed to set up the change to electronic payment.

Debbie LaRue, marketing director of Callaway Bank in Fulton, said the bank still is cashing paper Social Security and other federal benefit checks.

“Many people have converted to electronic payment, but some have not. Now is the time to get this task done. It will be a big hassle if people wait until after the deadline to try to set up the change,” LaRue said.

LaRue said tellers have been reminding customers of the change when they cash federal-issued checks. Promotional material describing the change also is available at local banks.

The U.S. Treasury Department has set a deadline of March 1 for all recipients of federal benefits to receive the payments either by direct deposit in a bank checking account or to a Direct Express Debit MasterCard card.

Converting the federal payment from paper check to electronic check or special debit card is easily available — just call 1-800-333-1795 or go online at”

Recipients of federal benefits will need to gather some information in advance of calling the toll-free number or going online to start electronic payments.

They need their Social Security number or claim number, their 12-digit federal benefit check number, and the amount of their most recent federal benefit check.

If choosing direct deposit, recipients also will need their financial institution’s routing transit number, which normally is printed next to the checking account number on personal checks. The recipient also must indicate whether the account is a checking account or a savings account.

“Switching to an electronic payment is not optional — it’s the law,” said Dave Lebryk, commissioner of the Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service.

“If you or a loved one still receive paper checks for federal benefit payments.” Lebryk said, “now is the time to switch. It’s free and easy.”

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