This Spring, the Social Security Administration (SSA) began mailing Employer Correction Request Notices (known informally as “No-Match Letters”) to employers that submitted at least one Form W-2 where the name and Social Security Number (SSN) did not match SSA records. These letters contain specific instructions for employers, but employers should be cautious when responding to these letters. Below are three reminders for employers to consider.
- Do not take adverse employment action against the employee (e.g., termination, layoff, unpaid leave, etc.) but do notify the employee if the error is not typographical error. As the SSA explains, there are many reasons why an employee’s name and SSN do not match SSA records, including a typographical error. The employer should first check internal records to determine if the error is typographical. If the error is not a result of an employer error, the employee should be notified of the discrepancy and given a reasonable amount of time to resolve the discrepancy with the SSA.
- Do not use the Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS) to determine whether employees are work authorized. The letters encourage employers to use the SSNVS, but the purpose of the SSNVS is limited to assisting employers with ensuring that employee names and SSNs match for purpose of completing Form W-2. Employers may not use the SSNVS for any purpose other than its intended purpose, including using the system to verify information from candidates for employment. Again, employers should not take adverse employment action against an employee solely on the basis of a mismatch result in the SSNVS system.
- Be aware of potential uses of this information and consider whether the letter is indicative of a internal problem with Form I-9 compliance. According to the SSA, the purpose of the Employer Correction Request Notice is to advise employers that corrections are needed in order for the agency to link employee earnings to the accurate record. However, the current administration prioritization of immigration worksite enforcement should be considered. For those employers who have a large number of employees whose names and SSNs do not match with SSA records, those employers may be at a higher risk for an immigration-related audit or investigation. Even the most compliant employers should continue to be extra diligent in compliance efforts with the Form I-9 requirements.
Employers are encouraged to contact counsel to discuss how to appropriately respond to Employer Correction Request Notices. If you have received a letter or have questions, please contact Kelli Meilink or Christine Fabin.