Unemployment benefits recipients to receive new card
Senator Bob Mensch urged constituents who receive unemployment and workers compensation payments via a debit card to check their mail for a new card from JP Morgan Chase. The new card, which was sent this week, will be used to pay benefits beginning March 15, so it is important for cardholders to activate the new card upon receipt, Senator Mensch said.
This adjustment will benefit and provide more opportunities to the recipients of unemployment and workers compensation during these tough economic times, Mensch said. Mensch also reminded constituents they are able to contact his district offices with any questions pertaining to this new program. District staff can also answer questions concerning the Pennsylvania Department of Labor, the Pennsylvania Treasury and other state departments. Anyone who received the previous blue debit card and a deposit since May 2012, as well as those who are currently not approved for direct deposit, will receive the new gold-colored Chase MasterCard. The new cards will not affect benefit levels.
Money on the blue debit MasterCard will not be transferred to the new gold Chase debit MasterCard. Any balance left on the blue card can be spent until at least Sept. 15. There will come a point in the future at which the blue cards will be deactivated, but cardholders will receive ample notification before accounts are closed, and they will have the opportunity to receive a paper check for any remaining balances.
The new Chase debit card offers significant improvements and savings to cardholders, which State Treasurer Rob McCord outlined in an announcement last month. The new JP Morgan Chase-administered program offers cardholders 25 percent more in-network ATM machines. Cardholders can make unlimited cash withdrawals and balance inquiries for free at these machines, which are operated by six different financial institutions: Allpoint, Chase, First National Bank of Pennsylvania, MoneyPass, Sovereign Bank and Susquehanna Bank. Allpoint and MoneyPass do not have physical banking locations; they are networks of ATM machines placed in establishments such as grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies.
The program also offers other free services, such as online bill pay, customer service calls and cash withdrawals from tellers at participating banks. All together, these improvements are expected to save cardholders an estimated $5.2 million per year in transaction fees. "We've developed a national model for how to pay benefits via a debit card in a way that does not 'nickel and dime' recipients with high fees and excessive transaction costs. Instead, workers who have earned benefits – and need those dollars to get through hard times – will have more resources to survive and support their families," McCord said in January when he announced the new card administrator and program improvements.
For more information, including answers to frequently asked questions, visit http://www.patreasury.gov/debit-card.html.