The U.S. Treasury Department is recommending federal-benefits recipients in states affected by recent flooding to switch their means of accepting benefits funds to direct deposit from checks. The recommendation is intended to ensure benefits continue to reach recipients even after a natural disaster, according to the department. The agency issues more than 935,000 checks each month to residents of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois, all of which recently were struck by recent flooding. After hurricanes Rita and Katrina, the government issued nearly 85,000 emergency payments to displaced residents who evacuated the hurricane-affected areas, according to the Treasury Department. The department earlier this year began marketing prepaid debit cards to benefits-check recipients in 10 states, choosing to market the cards first in states with large numbers of residents who receive benefits checks and states with a relatively high risk of weather-related disasters (CardLine, 6/10). The Treasury Department intends to finish marketing in all states by fall. In February, the department asked federal-benefits recipients in states struck by tornadoes to switch their payments from checks to electronic funds transfers (CardLine, 2/8).

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