Question: What happens on March 1, 2013?
Answer: “Paper or plastic?” stops being a valid question for payment of federal benefits.
What’s that you say? By March 1, 2013, anyone receiving federal benefits (Social Security, VA, etc.) must switch over from paper checks to direct deposit or a DirectExpress debit card. Anyone receiving paper checks who fails to make the election between direct deposit to a designated account or the DirectExpress debit card will automatically receive the DirectExpress debit card.
There is a waiver process, in which one can apply to continue to receive paper checks, but it is likely to be a difficult process to obtain such a waiver, it seems, as the government is trying to save money and intends to discourage waivers except in the most compelling circumstances.
The Department of the Treasury has a fairly slick website and a countdown clock (counting down to March 1, 2013), explaining the brave new world and linking to the DirectExpress site, as well. In case you are as fond of countdown clocks as I am, you can march yourself right over to this place: Tick Tock. 131:19:13:9… 131:19:13:5. You just can never get too much of those suckers.