There are almost 144,000 people in Vermont who receive Social Security benefits. And that system is going paperless by March 1, 2012. The administration says it will save the country's taxpayers about $44 million. But the change is coming with some headaches.
Harold Nadeau contracted polio when he was 4.
"From then on I've been paraplegic," he said.
Once Nadeau couldn't work anymore he applied for disability Social Security benefits. He's been getting that money directly deposited in his account for over 10 years now. But recently he noticed something was off.
"I went online to make my monthly payments and when I opened my account it was empty," Nadeau said.
His monthly payment never arrived. So he called the Social Security office in Montpelier.
"They were baffled," he said. "They had no idea what happened or why."
But Nadeau finally got his answer from the Vermont Social Security office. Turns out his money was sent to him in the mail on a Direct Express Card. It's part of Social Security's effort to go paperless. The card works and looks like a debit card and your monthly payment gets refilled. But Nadeau never was told he'd be receiving the card. And it wasn't clear when he did that it was from Social Security. ..."If you don't respond to this letter then you'll be enrolled automatically into this debit card system," Sarah Launderville said.
Launderville works for the Vermont Center for Independent Living or VCIL. The nonprofit got several calls recently from people who also did not receive their monthly payments, like Nadeau.