The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently resumed issuance of Employer Correction Requests, commonly known as social security number “no-match” letters. These notices alert employers of mismatches between submitted W-2 form information and SSA records. Employers should NOT ignore the Employer Correction Requests. Failure to take action on the Requests could serve as evidence of constructive knowledge of unauthorized employment under immigration rules.

Many employers are already familiar with “no-match” letters. The SSA began issuing them in 1993. The agency discontinued issuance of the letters in 2012 but warned last year that the practice would resume this spring. The 2019 version of the “no-match” letter instructs employers to access a list of their affected employees by logging into SSA’s Business Services Online system. We urge all employers to access this information immediately upon receiving the Employer Correction Request. After accessing the list of affected employees, employers should check their records for typos or other discrepancies in the company’s records. If none are found, notify the employee of the Request and instruct the employee to contact the Social Security Administration to correct the issue. Employers should consult with an attorney regarding format of the communication, timeline, and other protocol for ensuring proper response to the SSA without violation of discrimination laws.

Employers should not take adverse action against an employee based on the “no-match” letter alone. The Employer Correction Request clearly warns against such action, stating:

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.

This guidance is important, as there are many reasons why reported names and social security numbers may not match SSA records, including reporting errors by an employer or employee, errors in hyphenated or multiple last names, or unreported name changes.