published Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Coffey: Summertime is right time to go electronic

Martin Coffey

When you are away from home, one thing you don’t want to worry about is how you will receive your next monthly Social Security payment.

That is why it is important for everyone receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to sign up for electronic payments.

These days, almost everyone gets benefit payments electronically. Today, about 90 percent of all Social Security and SSI beneficiaries receive their payments electronically.

That number is increasing because the law requires that by March 1, 2013, all federal benefit payments, including Social Security and SSI payments, be made electronically. Whether you receive Social Security or SSI, you can depend on your payment arriving in your account on time, every time.

If you don’t already receive electronic payments, there are many good reasons to sign up. For one, less money and time spent driving to the bank to cash your check helps you save. Second, fewer paper checks, envelopes, and stamps, and less fuel to deliver the checks means savings for the government.

Hurricane season is here for some areas of the country. Other regions bear the brunt of flooding. Some areas of the nation are plagued by tornadoes, and still others must deal with wildfires, severe thunderstorms, or even earthquakes. If you are unfortunate enough to be in the path of a natural disaster, the last thing you want is for your income to be interrupted because of an evacuation or a missing mailbox. With electronic payments, you know your money will be in your account on time no matter what.

When on vacation, an electronic payment ensures payments will be deposited into your account on time, so there’s no reason to worry about the safety of your benefit or to ask a neighbor to look out for your check when you are away.

As an added bonus, many banks offer free checking accounts for people who use direct deposit because it saves the bank the cost of processing paper payments.

Skip the line at the bank, save money, get your payment faster, and know you can depend on your payment being in the bank no matter what happens or where you are. You can do all of this with electronic payments. Learn more about it at www.socialsecurity.gov/deposit

Submit questions to local Social Security Director Martin Coffey by writing to Business Editor Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, P.O. Box 1447, Chattanooga, TN 37401-1447, or by e-mailing him at dflessner@timesfreepress.com.

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