Social Security will stop issuing paper checks in 2013 at which point all payments will be made electronically, the Treasury Department said Monday.

New enrollees to Social Security programs will no longer be able to receive benefits via paper check beginning March 1, 2011. Current participants in the government benefits programs will have until March 1, 2013 to switch.

Subsequently all Social Security payments will be deposited electronically to a person’s bank account or to a beneficiary’s government-issued debit card. The special bank cards — known as Direct Express debit cards — were introduced in 2008 in order to allow beneficiaries who lack bank accounts to receive payments electronically.

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The changes apply to those who receive Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, benefits, which assist Americans with disabilities, in addition to a host of other government programs.

The new requirement is designed to cut mailing costs and increase reliability and financial security for recipients, Treasury officials said. Already 85 percent of those who receive federal benefits are paid electronically.