SSA No-Match Letters Are Back: How Should Employers Respond?

Capitol BuildingRecently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) resumed their practice of sending Employer Correction Requests (informally “no-match letters”) to employers advising them that information submitted on an employee’s Form W-2 does not match SSA records.  The SSA stopped sending no-match letters in 2012, but in recent months, employers across many industries have received letters.

The no-match letter states that there is an error with at least one name and the Social Security Number (SSN) on a W-2 that is submitted by the employer.  Importantly, the no-match letter does not imply that the employer or the employee intentionally reported incorrect information.  They are educational in nature to advise employers that a correction may be needed for the SSA to post the correct wages to the right record because discrepancies could occur due to typographical errors, unreported name changes (such as changes due to marriage or divorce) and inaccurate employer records.

If your company has received a no-match letter, consider taking the following action:

  • To learn which employee the SSA believes has incorrect information, the employer should register with the SSA’s Business Services Online (BSO) to log on and view the name and SSN errors.
  • Next, the employer should review its personnel records and verify that the name and SSN in its files matches the SSA’s records on the BSO because it may have been a typographical error when initially reported. If the information was reported incorrectly, the employer should correct it online on a Form W-2C.
  • If Human Resources correctly reported the information received from the employee, notify the employee that the company received a no-match letter and ask the employee to confirm the exact name and SSN as it appears on the employee’s SSN card. The records could have contained old or outdated information, such as if the employee provided a maiden name and failed to report the name change to HR.  If the exact name or SSN was not previously reported, the employer can correct it on a Form W-2C.
    • If the employer can no longer reach the employee due to termination of employment, the employer does not need to take any further action.
    • The SSA has provided a sample letter to employees that it can use to confirm the name and SSN.
  • If the information reported by the SSA matches that on the employee’s Social Security card, the employer can ask the employee to contact the local SSA office to resolve the issue, and notify Human Resources when it is resolved.
  • Importantly, a no-match letter does not address an employee’s work authorization or immigration status. A no-match letter is not proof that an employee is not authorized to work, nor should it be the basis for any adverse action against an employee. No employer should take any adverse action against an employee because the SSN or the name does not match SSA’s records, as that could expose the employer to liability under federal or state law.
    • Employers can reassure its employees that it will not take any action in response to the no-match letter with respect to the employee’s employment.

SSA asks that the employer correct the information within 60 days of receiving the no-match letter.  If the employee does not receive additional information from the employee within that time period, it should consult legal counsel.

Several national trade associations are working to gain additional clarity and formal guidance on SSA’s use of the no-match letters and we will keep our Employment Defense Report readers informed of any developments.

 

 

 

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