According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) over 575,000 employers received “no-match” letters earlier this year. The “no-match” letters notify employers of discrepancies between a worker’s Social Security number and government records.

Employers who did not receive a “no-match” letter earlier in the year may not be in the clear. SSA plans to mail out a second set of letters this fall. What should you do if you receive one of these letters?

First things first, receiving a “no-match” letter does not mean that a worker is not authorized to work in the United States. Mismatches occur for a variety of reasons, including clerical errors, name changes, identity theft, etc. Employers cannot use the letter alone to suspend, fire, or otherwise discriminate against an employee who has a SSA mismatch.

So what should you do?

The SSA is instructing employers who receive these “no-match” letters to do the following:

  • Register online through SSA’s business services system to find out which workers have discrepancies. It’s the only way to view the names and Social Security numbers that need correction.
  • Inform affected employees of the no-match notice and ask them to confirm the name and Social Security number reflected in his/her employment records.
  • Advise the employees to contact the SSA to correct their SSA records and give them a reasonable amount of time to do so.
  • Stay in contact with the workers to learn and document the status of their efforts to resolve the issue.
  • Review the documents the employee provides to show the mismatch has been resolved. You cannot require that they provide verification of a resolution with the SSA.
  • Submit any employer corrections to the SSA on the Form W-2C.

Employers cannot use the “no-match” letters as an opportunity to reverify the employee’s employment eligibility by completing a new Form I-9 or to produce certain documents. However, employers should use this as an opportunity to do a self-audit to inspect I-9 records for errors and prepare for a potential enforcement inspection. Need help with that? NAE conducts on-site I-9 audits for member organizations. Contact NAE for more information on our I-9 audits.