All About the Benjamins Part II: Goodbye Paper, Hello Benefits

Did you know that, by 2013, almost all government benefits payments will be made via direct deposit? That sounds extremely efficient and convenient, doesn’t it? And “efficient” and “convenient” are not necessarily words that are often associated with the act of being given money for any reason.

But it’s true. In 2010, the Obama administration created this cost-cutting move in order to both streamline the government, bringing it into the present (technology-wise) and to curb unnecessary spending in a time of great national debt.

“The change will eliminate about 136 million paper checks sent by the Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board and Office of Personnel Management and caps years of efforts to cut back on paper and postage costs,” reported ReStore Repayments, an industry web site. “The move should cut about $48 million dollars in government postage costs and save taxpayers approximately $303 million in the first five years after the switch.”

Since 2011, anyone who newly enrolled in those government programs were issued direct deposits; and in 2013, both new and current enrollees will be put on direct deposit as well. As mentioned in our previous paperless post, going paperless benefits those impacted by disasters because of the quickness and ease of pre-paid debit cards and electronic fund transfers for insureds receiving insurance payouts. In the wake of a storm such as this week’s Hurricane Sandy, it makes a huge difference to insureds to have the money to start rebuilding their lives after the worst is over.

In another sense, a “sea change” in fund payout like this is significant to disaster victims–not just as far as payouts go, but because of the aforementioned government programs like Social Security. Think about it: your home was flooded by Sandy and many objects need to be replaced. But you still have your normal needs on top of everything else. The Social Security check went out via snail mail as scheduled but won’t get to you on time because your street is washed out or too many trees are down. Obstacles like this (often actual physical obstacles, at that) can be averted altogether by paperless technology. It will benefit Americans in countless small ways that hadn’t been thought of before.

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