ConsumerWatch: State Disability Benefits Move To Debit Cards

The check is not in the mail for tens of thousands of Californians on disability.

California is starting to switch over to a new payment system for most state benefits. Instead of checks, recipients will soon be receiving Employment Development Debit cards issued by Bank of America.

Cindy Lalowski of San Jose is in the first wave of people to get a new EDD card. Last Monday, the date Lalowski was expecting her bi-monthly check of about $1,700, she got a notice saying her next payment will be in the form of a debit card. But when Lalowski called Bank of America to ask where her card was, the representative “told me it was going to take 7 to 10 business days to get the card.”

State officials admit there is a lag, but insist it’s not that long.

“There is a little bit of a process for us to get the information over to Bank of America for them to actually make the card and then get it into the mail. So it might take a day or two longer,“ Loree Levy of EDD said.

The card roll-out started Monday, December 13th. People on Disability and Family Medical Leave will get them first. Individuals on unemployment could get them early next spring. EDD says about 5,000 cards are being mailed each day.

Gail Hillebrand of Consumers Union has reservations about the cards.

“Some people on disability will be on disability because of a mental challenge and that may be something that makes it more difficult to keep track of money you can’t touch or see,” Hillbrand said.

EDD contends the cards are more secure than paper checks and give recipients quicker access to their funds.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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