Ann Dickey

by Ann Dickey, CPA

Have you received an employer correction request notice within the last few months? If so, you’re not alone. This past March, the Social Security Administration (SSA) resumed its practice of sending out these notices, also known as “no-match” letters, for the first time in seven years.

A no-match letter identifies employees whose name and Social Security number (SSN) on a filed Form W-2 do not match SSA records. Finding one in your mailbox can be a little unnerving; however, it doesn’t mean that an employee purposefully gave fraudulent information to the government. Mismatches could occur for a variety of reasons, including administrative errors, name changes, and identity theft. Nevertheless, responding in the wrong way could lead to legal consequences, so it’s important to know what to do. Keep this in mind, too—you must respond within 60 days.

To help you provide an appropriate response to any no-match letters you receive, here are a few things you should know:

Why does the SSA send out no-match letters? 

The SSA needs correct names and Social Security numbers to reconcile employer wage reports and credit employee earnings to SSA records. These records help to determine if someone is entitled to Social Security retirement, disability, and survivors benefits, as well as the amount he or she can receive.

What should you do if you receive one? 

If you receive a no-match letter, you’ll need to use the Employer Report Status within Business Services Online (BSO) to view the names and SSNs that could not be matched by the SSA. While no-match letters indicate the number of mismatches within your business, they do not list corresponding employee names and SSNs.

Once you’ve identified the employees with mismatches, check their records for clerical errors. If the name and SSN on record were correctly reported to the SSA, notify the employee of the mismatch and have the employee confirm the name and SSN in his or her personnel record. If the employee confirms the name and SSN on record are correct, give the employee time to contact and resolve the mismatch with the SSA. Once resolved, the employee should inform you of any changes. You’ll need to provide any necessary corrections to the SSA on Form W-2C within 60 days of when you received the no-match letter. If the employee can’t or doesn’t resolve the mismatch with the SSA, you should consult with legal counsel on how to proceed.

What should you not do? 

As mentioned, a no-match letter does not imply that an employee intentionally gave wrong information to the government, nor does it address employee work authorization or immigration status.  You should not use this letter to take unfavorable action against an employee, such as laying off, suspending, firing, or discriminating against an employee. These actions could violate state or federal law and cause you to face legal consequences.

How can you keep no-match letters out of your mailbox? 

Correcting employee records with the SSA can be a time-consuming task. To avoid it in the future, consider using E-Verify.  This Internet-based system confirms an employee’s employment eligibility by comparing information from the employee’s  Form I-9 (entered by an employer) to records available to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the SSA. Many employers, such as federal contractors, are required to use E-Verify by law. For all other employers, it’s a prudent preventative option.

We’re here to answer your questions. 

If you’ve received a no-match letter and are unsure of your next steps, please don’t hesitate to give our AEM Workforce Solutions team a call. We’d be happy to help guide you through your response. You can reach us anytime at 507-625-2727.