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Debit card payments for workers' compensation: system tweaked

If you suffer a workplace injury, it is important that you get the workers' compensation you are eligible for. Regardless of how your work injury occurred - a construction accident, a repetitive stress injury, fall or in some other way - workers' comp benefits are important to help make ends meet.

And when it comes to actually receiving benefits, the means of payment are therefore important too. In Pennsylvania, many people receive their workers' compensation payments through debit cards. In fact, a total of around 150,000 Pennsylvanians, or slightly more than 40 percent of the overall total, receive their unemployment benefits or workers' comp that way.

Last week, the state treasurer, Rob McCord, expressed concern about excessive fees for use of these debit cards. For example, in some cases people were being charged fees even when they didn't use their cards - but were merely moving money from the card to their personal accounts.

The state says it is setting up a new card system that will have many advantages over the old one. For one thing, it is supposed to offer unlimited ATM withdrawals from within the card's network. The number of machines in the network is also set to increase.

The transition from the old debit cards to the new ones is scheduled to go into effect on March 15. Altogether, the new system is expected to save Pennsylvanians several million dollars a year in fees.

Of course, automatic deposit is also a common way to receive government benefits. At the federal level, the Social Security Administration has been actively working to stop the mailing of paper checks and in favor of electronic deposits.

Source: "Pa. Jobless, Workers' Compensation Recipients To Save Money With New Debit Cards," CBS Philly, 1-25-13

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