The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently issued a second round of Employer Correction Requests, commonly known as social security number “no-match” letters. These notices alert employers of mismatches between submitted W-2 form information and SSA records. Employers should NOT ignore the Employer Correction Requests. Failure to take action on the Requests could serve as evidence of constructive knowledge of unauthorized employment under immigration rules or tax related liabilities.
SSA sent over half a million Employer Correction Requests earlier this year with guidance on reviewing and correcting no-match issues. The format of the new round of Correction Requests changed slightly. For example, SSA removed reference to a 60-day “correction” timeline and now provides more detailed information on using the Business Services Online (BSO) system to view the mismatches.
While the language of the new Employer Correction Request varies from the letters sent earlier this year, our guidance remains the same. Employers should log into the BSO system upon receiving the Employer Correction Request. Many employers could not easily access their BSO Accounts or list of affected employees after the last round Employer Correction Requests. We recommend following the new step-by-step access instructions on the Correction Requests and reviewing the online tutorials available on the Social Security Administration’s BSO webpage.
After accessing the list of affected employees, employers should check their records for typos or other discrepancies in the company’s records. If none are found, notify the employee of the Request and instruct the employee to contact Social Security Administration to correct the issue. Employers should consult with an attorney regarding format of the communication, timeline, and other protocol for ensuring proper response to the SSA without violation of discrimination laws.
Employers should not take adverse action against an employee based on the “no-match” letter alone. The Employer Correction Request continues to warn against such action, stating:
Do not take adverse action against an employee, such as laying off, suspending, firing, or discriminating against that individual, just because this letter identifies a mismatch between his or her SSN or name as reported to us. Those actions could violate state or federal law and subject you to legal consequences.
There are many reasons why reported names and social security numbers may not match SSA records, including reporting errors by an employer or employee, errors in hyphenated or multiple last names, or unreported name changes.
If a clerical error is found or new employee information is obtained, employers should correct the mismatches via Form W-2C. Detailed instructions on the correction process are included in the Employer Correction Requests. Note that state withholding corrections require their own, separate correction processes.