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The Social Security Administration (SSA) will begin mailing Employer Correction Request Notices – often referred to as Social Security No-Match Letters – later this month. The notice alerts the employer that some employee names and/or Social Security Numbers (SSNs) that the employer submitted on 2018 Forms W-2 do not match the SSA’s records.

Oftentimes mis-matches between names and SSNs are due to simple mistakes or outdated information, such as spelling or data entry errors or unreported name changes after marriage or divorce. Accurate information is important since errors could result in an employee not receiving the correct amount of disability or retirement benefits in the future. Note, however, that SSA no-match letters do not pertain to anyone’s immigration status or authorization to work in the United States.

Employers that receive SSA no-match letters are advised to take the following steps:

  • Log onto the SSA’s Business Service Online (BSO) site to check employee names and SSNs that did not match between the Form W-2 and the SSA’s records. (To use the BSO, you must complete a one-time registration here.)
  • Review the name and SSN you submitted on the employee’s 2018 Form W-2. Does it match the information the employee gave you on Form W-4 and on the employee’s Social Security card? If so, let the employee know that there may be a discrepancy with the SSA’s records. To notify the employee, you may want to use this sample employee letter.
  • If you made a mistake on the employee’s W-2, follow the correction procedures for Form W-2C within 60 days.
  • For assistance, contact the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-6270 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern Time.

DO NOT take adverse action against the employee. The SSA instructs employers as follows:

“You should not use this letter to take any adverse action against an employee, such as laying off, suspending, firing, or discriminating against that individual, just because his or her SSN or name does not match our records. Any of those actions could, in fact, violate State or Federal law and subject you to legal consequences.”

Lastly, note that employers can help avoid mis-matches by comparing their employees’ information against the SSA’s records before they prepare Forms W-2. Employers and payroll administrators are encouraged to use the free Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS), available through the BSO site, to check that employee names and SSNs match the government’s records.

Kathy Berger
Kathy Berger is ThinkHR’s principal benefits consultant. She is a Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) with over 25 years of experience working with brokers and employers. Kathy uses her extensive knowledge of ERISA, HIPAA, the ACA, and other benefits laws and regulations to assist our clients with practical information in clear language.