MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

TRENTON
-- Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes wants to remind residents who receive any of a variety of federal benefits that they must switch from receiving a paper check to receiving their benefits through an electronic payment method by March 1, 2013.

“The switch from paper to electronic payment will help the government provide benefits to our residents more efficiently,” Hughes said.  “If you receive federal benefits, please make sure to switch to an electronic method by March 1, 2013.”

The benefits affected are: Social Security, SSI, Veteran’s Benefits, Civil Service Wage Salary or Retirement Payments, Military Wage Salary or Retirement Payments, Railroad Retirement Board Payments, and DOL/Black Lung.

This federal mandate is being done to save taxpayers the cost of expensive mailing processes and to ensure those entitled receive their benefits by secure electronic transfer of funds. In fact, the federal government reports that nearly half a million Social Security and SSI checks are lost or stolen each year.

Recipients have several electronic payment options to choose from, including direct deposit and Direct Express Debit MasterCard.

Direct deposit allows automatic electronic payments into your bank account or credit union.  Your bank can assist you in this process or you can sign up by contacting Social Security or by going online to http://www.godirect.org.

If you do not have a bank account, you will receive your benefits in the form of a debit card via Direct Express Debit MasterCard. Social Security or other federal benefits will be deposited in a card account -- similar to a debit card account -- whereby you “draw down” on the total amount on your card when making purchases at stores, paying bills or withdrawing cash for your personal use.  Visit www.usdirectexpress.com to learn more.

A third way to receive your federal benefits is to set up an Electronic Transfer Account.  This is a low-cost account for recipients of federal payments. This is designed for federal payment recipients who do not have or may not qualify for a checking or savings account.  All federal benefits are protected but it is imperative you receive good guidance on this process. For more information online, visit https://www.eta-find.gov.

“Federal benefits are vital for many Mercer County residents,” Hughes said. “Switch to an electronic method and not only will you be saving tax dollars spent on printing, you’ll find your benefits will be provided with the quickness and efficiency that electronic methods produce.”

The Mercer County Office on Aging can also guide you to resources to help you make these decisions. Call (609) 989-6661.

The best way to connect to the Social Security Administration is by calling 1-800-772-1213 to get recorded information and conduct business 24 hours a day through SSA’s automated telephone services. If you cannot conduct your business through SSA’s automated services, you can speak to a Social Security representative between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.