Employers Receiving Name/SSN No-Match Letters from SSA

Employers and employees, be aware that you could be receiving name/SSN no-match letters at home from the SSA {Social Security Administration} – learn what it means and how to respond to such a letter.  Information contained in this article is from the General Ledger – the Complete Newsletter for Professional Bookkeepers, published by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.

The SSA started sending out name/SSN no-match letters again in March of this year to employer and employee or self-employed at home.  The new notices have one mismatch per letter and are called “Decentralized Correspondence” (DECOR).  SSA wants to make sure that a worker’s earnings are posted to the right account. Exception: SSA will not be sending no-match letters for tax years 2007-2009.

SSA recommends responding to a no-match letter as follows:

  • check your records to see if there is a discrepancy in the records submitted to SSA,
  • ask the employee to check his/her records to determine if the information was accurately recorded/reported,
  • instruct the employee to contact the SSA to resolve any discrepancy.
  • provide the employee a reasonable amount of time to resolve the discrepancy (“reasonable” is not defined, but the “suggested” period is 120 days, the period used by E-Verify – but circumstances can change this); and
  • document your efforts to resolve the matter.

There is no specific guidance on your obligations for responding to a no-match letter from the SSA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC).  But OSC offers some general guidance for setting up a response plan:

  • Keep in mind that name/SSN no-matches can result from typos, misread numbers, name changes, etc.
  • Check no-matches against your personnel records.
  • Inform the employee of a no-match notice and request and confirm the name/SSN in your personnel records.
  • If the employee confirms your records as correct, advise the employee to contact SSA to correct and/or update his or her SSA records.
  • Give the employee a reasonable period of time to work out a reorted no-match with the local SSA office.
  • Periodically meet with or contact the employee to findout about and document the status of his/her efforts to resolve the no-match.
  • If the employee offers to supply a document that may resolve the no-match, review it carefully.
  • Submit employer or employee corrections to the SSA.

Follow the same procedures for all employees, regardless of citizenship or national origins. Failure to do so may spark discrimination lawsuits against your company.

OSC also offers some don’ts:

  • Don’t use the receipt of a no-match notice alone as a basis to terminate, suspend or take any other adverse action against the employee.
  • Don’t try to immediately re-verify the employee’s employment eligibility – e.g., don’t ask the person to hand in a new I-9 solely because of a no-match letter.
  • Don’t require specific I-9 documents to deal with the no-match letter.
  • Don’t require the employee to provide a receipt of a request for an SSN or name change.  (OSC points out that SSA receipts may not always be obtainable.)

Key Point: A no-match letter recipient is not required to respond.  But if you don’t, the SSA may share the information with the IRS or Justice Department.

To avoid getting a no-match letter, use SSA’s:

  • SSN Verification Services (SSNVS) at www.ssa.gov, click on Business Services Online, second link, far left; or
  • Employer Verification (TNEV), an automated telephone service that allows registered users to verify names or SSNs over the phone without talking to an agent – call 800-772-1213 and at the prompt say “Employer SSN Verification”.

Federal law prohibits using SSNVS or TNEV for work authorizations – use it only to verify a current employee’s SSN.

I hope you’ve found this article helpful – if so, please take a moment to leave a comment and feel free to share this information with others on your favorite social media site.