These waivers are not well publicized on the government's website.
"There are several million people who receive paper checks today," Certner said. "Some of them do it because they have worked out arrangements for them that work."
AARP also has concerns about fees associated with the debit cards. The Direct Express cards are issued by Comerica Bank, Treasury's financial agent. Each month, benefit payments are added to the cards, which can be used to make purchases or withdraw cash from ATMs.
There are no fees for using the debit card to make purchases. They can be used at any retailer that accepts MasterCard debit cards. If a card is lost or stolen, the beneficiary is protected from unauthorized use as long as the missing card is reported promptly.
Cardholders can make one free ATM withdrawal each time a payment is registered in the card. Subsequent withdrawals will cost 90 cents each, and all withdrawals may be subject to fees by the owner of the ATM.
The government's switch to electronic payments also comes with a side effect: less business for the U.S. Postal Service, an agency that is already facing big budget problems with the rise of email and electronic bill paying.
The private sector has been migrating to electronic payments for years, costing the Postal Service millions of customers, said Alan Robinson, editor of the Postal Journal, a trade publication.
"Normally, these things happen one customer at a time," Robinson said. "In terms of payments, this is probably one of the largest."