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Addressing "Social Security No-Match Letters"

May 1, 2019
The Social Security Administration (SSA) resumed issuance of Employer Correction Request Notices, commonly referred to as “Social Security No-Match Letters.” The SSA requests responses within a 60 day period from the date on the notices.
We have heard from our local members and industry counterparts in other states that many restaurants have received “Social Security No-Match Letters.” These letters should be taken seriously, and you should act accordingly. 
What Does This Mean For You
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will send so-called ‘no-match’ letters to employers when information in an individual employee’s W-2 form, Wage and Tax Statement, does not match the SSA’s records. To correct mismatches, the employer needs to submit Form W-2c (Corrected Wage and Tax Statement) through the SSA’s Business Services Online (BSO) Wage Reporting. The BSO database lets you know which employees show up as “mismatched.”
Employers must take proper steps in addressing the request. Most importantly, employers should not assume that a No-Match Letter is proof of an unauthorized or undocumented worker; likewise, an employer cannot use the letter alone as a basis to take adverse action against an employee. 
What To Do If You Receive A No Match Letter
• Employers should NOT use the receipt of a no-match letter — or any objections an employee may raise about the employer’s no-match response procedures — as a basis to either retaliate against the employee or otherwise subject the employee to heightened scrutiny or any adverse employment action. Doing so may violate the anti discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, other state/federal equal employment opportunity laws, and/or labor laws.
• Compare the no-match letter information with your employment records. If you made a typographical error, correct the error and resubmit the corrected data through BSO. 
• If your employment records differ from the information on the no-match letter, ask the employee to check his/her Social Security card and inform you of any name or SSN difference between your records and his/her card. Correct records and BSO accordingly.
• If your employment records and the employee’s Social Security card match, ask the employee to check with any local SSA Office to resolve the issue. Once the employee has contacted the SSA Office, he/she should inform you of any changes. Correct records and BSO accordingly.
• If the employee is unable to provide a valid SSN, you are encouraged to document your efforts to obtain the correct information. Documentation should be retained with payroll records for a period of three (3) years. Please note that you need to give the employee a “reasonable period of time” to resolve a no-match notice.
• While not required, it is recommended that an employer schedule and document periodic meetings or other communications with the employee during the resolution period to stay on top of the employee’s efforts to resolve the no-match. 
• If you are unable to contact the employee, you should document your efforts to do so.
• It is recommended that employers document all steps taken to resolve a no-match letter and the communications with the employee.
Reasons For a Mismatch 
• An administrative error or typo by SSA staff, the employer, or the employee;
• Misspelled names, or errors reporting culturally based hyphenated or multiple surnames;
• Identity theft;
• Numbers reversed;
• An unreported name change due, for example, to marriage, divorce or naturalization; or
• Fraudulent social security card.
An employer’s failure to address a No-Match Letter and/or failure to follow-up with an employee and their progress towards resolving the no-match could lead to a finding by ICE of constructive knowledge of employing unauthorized workers.
If you want more information or need additional help, please contact Angelo Amador, Executive Director of the Restaurant Law Center at or (202)492-5037. The Restaurant Law Center provides members of the National Restaurant Association free general information on frequently asked questions on this topic and may direct members to public websites where additional information can be obtained; however, the Restaurant Law Center cannot provide legal advice on a specific case.