ATLANTA - The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) says all all unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in Georgia will be paid electronically and that paper checks will no longer be issued, effective this week.
The GDOL has begun mailing the new UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard to current recipients of UI benefits paid by paper checks. The debit cards will become effective Nov. 2. The final paper check payments will be made Nov. 1.
For several years, UI recipients in Georgia have had the option of using direct bank deposits, rather than receiving paper checks. Currently, there are approximately 118,000 UI recipients and about 70 percent of them use direct deposit. Those who prefer direct deposit will continue to have that option.
Officials say the complete transition to electronic payments will provide a faster, more reliable, and more customer-friendly method of paying benefits, while significantly reducing the department's expense of distributing the payments. The material and postal expense alone of issuing paper checks is currently about $19,000 per week.
They added that electronic payment offers several benefits to recipients. They have access to the funds more quickly since mail delivery time is eliminated. There is no risk of stolen or lost checks. The debit cards can be used to make purchases or get cash back, just as with any debit card. There is no merchant charge to the recipient for use of the card.
Recipients will have the option of registering for electronic alerts when deposits are made to their accounts. They will be able to monitor their accounts online to check balances and review transactions. They can also speak directly with UI Way2Go customer service representatives, who are available around the clock.
The UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard is operated by the Go Program and issued by Comerica Bank. The cards are accepted anywhere MasterCard is accepted and cash may be obtained with no fee from any MoneyPass ATM.
The UI recipients will get instructions on how to activate the UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard when they receive it. Complete information about the program is available at www.dol.state.ga.us.