Another Round of Social Security No-Match Letters Expected

 

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer August 27, 2019
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​About 577,000 employers received employer correction request notices this year alerting them to discrepancies between a worker's Social Security number and government records, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The agency announced in a letter to Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., that it plans to mail a second set of remaining notices—known as "no-match letters"—this fall.

"No-match letters are mailed to employers … requesting corrected information to reconcile employer wage reports and credit employees' earnings to their Social Security records," said Yova Borovska, an immigration attorney in the Tampa, Fla., office of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney. "Such letters state that there is a mismatch between certain employees' information on Forms W-2 and the SSA's database. The letters provide employers with 60 days from the day of receipt to submit necessary corrections on the Form W-2C."

It's important to know that the letter does not mean that a person is not authorized for employment. An employer cannot use the letter alone as a reason to suspend, fire or discriminate against an employee, just because his or her Social Security number or name does not match SSA records, said Ali Brodie, a partner and co-chair of the Immigration Practice at Fox Rothschild based in the Los Angeles and Denver offices.

Mismatches could result from a variety of reasons, including typographical errors, name changes, fraud and identity theft.

There is reason to be concerned about receipt of a no-match letter. "Because a no-match letter raises questions regarding an employee's work-authorized status in the U.S., it can expose the employer to potential liability for knowingly hiring or continuing to employ an individual who is not authorized to work in the United States," Borovska said.

[SHRM members-only HR Q&As: What action should employers take in response to Social Security no-match letters?]

Steps for Employers

The SSA is instructing employers who receive no-match letters to register online through the agency's business services system. Registering online is the only way employers can view the names and Social Security numbers that need correction.

Here are the steps employers should follow if they get one of the letters, according to John Fay, president of the LawLogix division of Hyland Software, a company headquartered in Phoenix that specializes in cloud-based I-9, E-Verify and immigration compliance services:

  • Register online to find out which workers have discrepancies in their SSA files.
  • Inform affected employees of the no-match notice and ask that they confirm the name and SSN reflected in your employment records.
  • Advise the workers to contact the SSA to correct their SSA records. Give employees a reasonable period of time to do this.
  • Stay in contact with the affected workers to learn and document the status of their efforts to address and resolve the issue.
  • Review documents the employee chooses to offer that show the mismatch is resolved.
  • Submit any employer corrections to the SSA.

Fay reminded employers not to attempt to reverify the employee's employment eligibility by requesting the worker to complete a new Form I-9, to produce specific documents or to provide verification of a resolution with the SSA.

Borovska added that following completion of the no-match letter process, employers should undergo a preventative I-9 compliance self-audit in order to inspect I-9 records for errors and prepare for a potential enforcement inspection.

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