In March 2019, the Social Security Administration (SSA) resumed sending Employer Correction Request Notices, or “no-match” letters, advising employers that corrections are needed on one or more employee Form W-2s. Letters are sent when the SSA discovers the information on the form submitted by the employer doesn’t match their database.
No-match letters aren’t a new concept. Letters were sent to employers as early as 1993. Regulations were issued to provide employers with procedures on how to respond, but were rescinded in 2009. In 2012, the SSA stopped sending the letters altogether. Fast forward to spring 2019, when the practice was revived by the current administration to strengthen immigration enforcement.
Respond and resolve
There are a several reasons why employer-reported information may not match the SSA records including:
- Reporting errors by employer or employee (e.g., transposed or missing numbers, name errors, typing errors)
- Unreported name changes (e.g., marriage or divorce)
- Inaccurate or incomplete employer records
- Identity fraud
- Use of a fraudulent SSN
Employers should respond to a no-match letter by checking their records for a clerical error, notifying the employee of the reported mismatch, and working with the employee to resolve the problem. When checking records, an employer may need to ensure information on file matches the name and SSN on the employee’s Social Security card.
If it doesn’t match, ask your employee to provide you with the exact information as shown on the employee’s Social Security card. If the information matches, ask the employee to check with any local Social Security office to resolve the issue. Once resolved, the employee should inform you of any changes.
Avoid adverse employment actions
Taking adverse action against an employee based solely (e.g., suspension or termination) on no-match letters may result in discrimination under the Immigration and Nationality Act. In the past, the lack of clear guidance on how to handle discrepancies led to employer confusion regarding what action to take if an employee is unable to resolve the problem.
Taking no action is also not an option. Failure to respond could trigger additional scrutiny by U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE) to determine if the employer has an unauthorized worker.
Employers can take steps to minimize receiving no-match letters by using the Social Security Number Verification Service to validate employee information as part of new hire processing. You can find information about the verification process in the HR Library topic, Other Background Checks.
Additional information including frequently asked questions and instructions for finding and resolving errors are available on the Social Security Administration website.
April Mabry is an assistant direction at TASB HR Services. Send April an email at email@example.com.