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What to do With a SSN Mismatch Letter

Published Monday, April 29, 2019
by Gail Cecchettini Whaley, J.D.

lettersThey’re back… The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently resumed issuing Employer Correction Request Notices, commonly called “No-Match letters.”  Employers have had a reprieve from such letters since 2012 when the Obama administration suspended their issuance.

What is a No-Match letter?  A No-Match letter is sent when the Social Security Number (SSN) on a W-2 doesn’t match what the SSA has on file for the individual.  The purpose of the letter is to advise employers that corrections are needed in order for the SSA to properly post the employee’s earnings to the correct record.

What Not to Do

But, receipt of a No-Match letter does not mean that an employee is an unauthorized worker. In fact, the letter does not address the employee’s work authorization or immigration status. Nor does the letter mean that an employee intentionally gave false information. There can be a number of different reasons for the mismatch, such as typographical errors, unreported name changes, and inaccurate or incomplete employer records.

Employers cannot use the mismatch letter as a reason to take adverse action against an employee, such as suspending, firing, or discriminating against that individual just because his or her SSN or name does not match the SSA’s records. Any such adverse action could violate both California and federal law and subject your organization to legal consequences.

Keep in mind that California also specifically protects individuals who update their personal information, including name and social security number.

Steps to Follow

Employers need to follow specific steps to respond to the No-Match letter:

  1. The employee name is not actually in the No-Match letter from SSA. To view the names and SSNs that could not be matched to the SSA records, you must use the Employer Report Status within Business Services Online (BSO). To begin using BSO, you must complete a one-time registration process. To register, go to socialsecurity.gov/bso/bsowelcome.htm.
  2. Review the name and SSN information on the BSO against the information in your files to see if there are any clerical errors that you may have made.
  3. If you correctly reported information received from the employee, inform the employee of the No-Match letter and ask the employee to confirm his or her name and Social Security Number as it appears on his/her Social Security card. A sample letter that employers can give employees can be found here.
  4. If the Form W-2 is incorrect, correct your records and prepare a Form W-2C. If the name or SSN on the card is incorrect, advise the employee to visit the nearest Social Security office to update his or her SSN record and obtain a replacement SSN card.
  5. Fix any errors by submitting a Form W-2C within 60 days of receipt of the No-Match letter.

 

Above All Don’t Ignore the Letter

Failure to address a No-Match Letter, or take proactive steps to resolve the no-match, could lead to a finding by ICE that your organization knowingly employed unauthorized workers and hefty fines.

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