A new Social Security debit card, intended to replace paper checks for the millions of seniors who don’t have bank accounts, will be available by this spring, the Treasury Department said today. It's the latest phase in a shift from fraud-prone paper payments to safer, cheaper electronic ones, the Wall Street Journal reports. A paper check costs the government 89 cents; an electronic payment costs 9.
Since 2005, the department’s Go Direct campaign has urged Social Security recipients with bank accounts to switch to direct deposit. The new card will also handle SSI, disability, and other benefits. If all of the roughly 4 million recipients without accounts adopted it, the government would save $44 million a year. "We ultimately would like to see an all-electronic Treasury," one official said.