Parents, teachers, counselors, and administrators all know what happens when they announce a task with a deadline. Some folks very conscientiously set out to handle the task within the stated deadline. Other individuals put it on their “do it next week” list. Still others find the task annoying and the deadline a “suggested date” rather than a true “deadline”. And finally, a small group of folks do not believe that the deadline applies to them – so they ignore it. Their rationale for ignoring it varies widely from individual to individual, but the key fact is that they ignore it.
Those who announce a deadline always have a decision to make at one point or another – whether to enforce the deadline or “let it slide”. An effective leader (parent, teacher, etc.) always enforces the deadline. But sometimes, enforcing a deadline becomes a bit more complicated than usual.
Such is the case with the deadline that our dear old “Uncle Sam” set for federal government program entitlement beneficiaries (for example, Veterans benefits and Social Security benefits) to sign-up for the electronic transfer of payments into a bank, a credit union, or onto an approved prepaid debit card.
For the past three years, the federal government has been informing benefit recipients of the importance of its deadline to sign-up for this “direct deposit” delivery method. The deadline has long been March 1, 2013! From the start, the government’s intent has been to cease distributing these benefits via a paper check after March 1.
So now we have passed that deadline (I am writing on March 17, sixteen days later). It is reported that several million beneficiaries are among the group I described above who either ignore a deadline or firmly believe it doesn’t apply to them. What will the government do?
Evidently, when it comes to enforcing this deadlines, the VA and SSA are no better at deadline enforcement than Congress was meeting its own self-imposed deadline of January 1 to resolve the so-called “Fiscal Cliff”.
From the U.S. Treasury Office, we have this March announcement from Walt Henderson: “No one’s payment will be interrupted… [but those who have not yet set up direct deposit] will hear from Treasury via mail about their options for complying with the law.”
Why does the government want to go totally “paperless”? For at least two reasons:
1) It reduces the risk of identity theft (no more mailed check envelopes sitting in a mailbox, waiting to be stolen);
2) More importantly, it is projected to save the government over $1 billion during the next 10 years ($100 million each year, on average).
If you (or someone you know) has not yet signed up for electronic direct deposit, go to GoDirect.org or call 800-333-1795 as soon as you can!! As we saw with Congress, eventually even the government gets around to enforcing deadlines!