After a significant courtroom battle, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has resumed notifying employers of discrepancies between employer-submitted payroll data and the agency’s own records. The notification letters are notorious among employers as “no-match letters.”

The purpose of the no-match letter, according to the SSA, is to allow the agency to obtain corrected information that would help it identify the worker to whom reported earnings belong so that earnings (and payroll contributions) can be properly credited to the deserving worker’s Social Security earnings record. The SSA clearly states that “a no-match between an employee’s name and SSN in the employer and SSA’s records DOES NOT mean that the employee lacks work authorization, nor does it make any statement regarding a worker’s immigration status.”

Still, the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers request copies of any no-match letters that employers have received when it conducts I-9 and other investigations. Additionally, no-match letters from the SSA have formed the basis for multiple criminal investigations and prosecutions for harboring or knowingly hiring unauthorized workers. All relevant factors suggest that an unresolved no-match will be a factor in determining civil fines or criminal prosecution after an I-9 investigation.

Employers must be prepared for receipt of no-match letters by implementing a clear and consistent policy for resolving the no-match. Such a policy should set out the steps that the employer and the employee must take and should set clear deadlines, which may be extended in certain circumstances. Please contact us if you would like our assistance in drafting a policy to handle no-match letters.