Government to stop sending benefits by check

An important deadline is just days away. Starting in March, federal benefits - such as Social Security and Veterans Benefits - will no longer be sent by check.

You need to choose between electronic deposit into a bank account or having that money loaded onto a MasterCard debit card.

If you don't make a choice by March 1, you'll automatically be enrolled in the Direct Express debit card program.

Bruce McClary with Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions says the debit card is probably not the best option.

"First of all, your money can grow if it's in a checking or savings account. Deposits in a standard checking or savings account are obviously insured and they're secure. And debit cards typically generate more fees than a checking or savings accounts, so you're losing ground."

So what should you do if you get federal benefits by check and haven't told the government what to do starting next month?

Talk to the agency that issues the benefits, visit your bank or credit union, or make the change by phone (800-333-1795) or online at

For more information

FAQ: A change in the way federal benefits will be paid