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LTC facilities should prepare now for Social Security payment changeover, Feds say

September 4, 2012
by pamela tabar
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Seniors who receive their Social Security payments in the form of a paper check will be going electronic in 2013. The U.S. Treasury Department’s “Go Direct” initiative will replace paper checks with direct deposits for federal benefit payments March 1, including VA payments, Supplemental Security Income and other federal program benefits.

The electronic system will deposit seniors’ federal benefits into a checking or savings account, or as a credit on a prepaid debit card if no bank account is available.

Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities also should benefit from the electronic transition through better efficiency and reduced paperwork. Residents won’t have to deposit paper checks at a bank before their funds are available and won’t have to worry about checks being stolen or lost.

But the news system will carry its own risks and complications. LTC facilities must have the financial systems and operational procedures in place deal with electronic payments. Since some residents may be unfamiliar with electronic banking, education early on can help reduce any apprehensions residents may have about no longer receiving a paper check.

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) is offering a free webinar September 18 to help long-term care facilities understand how the new benefits deposit system will affect facilities and to educate administrators on compliance scenarios.

Seniors may switch to the new federal direct deposit system early, if they wish. Those who applied for federal benefits after May 2011 should already be on the electronic direct deposit system.

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