News & Announcements

Social Security Mismatch Letters in the Mail

Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2019 6:25 am

For the first time in seven years, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) has begun mailing “mismatch” notification letters to employers.  The letters, formally titled Employer Correction Request Notices, are sent to employers identified as having at least one 2018 Form W-2 where the employee’s name and Social Security number (“SSN”) do not match the SSA’s records.  The notice informs the employer that corrections are needed.  The SSA does not send notices to employees.

While receiving a notice does not necessarily indicate misconduct or trigger a penalty, employers who fail to timely (within 60 days) correct “mismatch” situations could owe IRS penalties.  Employers should not take any adverse employment action against employees solely based on receipt of a letter, as such action could violate state and/or federal law.

I Received a Letter – Now What?

The SSA provides instructions to find and resolve errors.  Here are some tips.

  • Register for Business Services Online (“BSO”): According to the SSA’s sample of the notice, the letter does not include the names and SSNs of the employees.  Rather, employers must register online with BSO and complete the activation code process to find out whose SSNs are mismatched.
  • Confirm the information in personnel records matches the information provided by the SSA.  If it does not match, ask the employee to provide the exact information as shown on the employee’s Social Security card. Mismatches due to typographical error can be corrected by submitting the information to the SSA.
  • If the mismatch is not due to typographical error, the SSA website contains a sample letter you can use to notify an employee of the mismatch.
  • Give the employee a reasonable period of time to resolve the mismatch with the SSA. Once resolved, the employee should inform you of any changes.
  • Employees are responsible for resolving the mismatch, but employers should follow up to ensure the employees are resolving the issue, and document each time they follow up. There is no set amount of time that is reasonable – it depends on the circumstances, but if the employee does not resolve the issue within 60 days of receipt of the letter, employers should advise the SSA.
  • Fix errors using Forms W-2 C and W-3 C.

How Can I Prevent Mismatches?

  • When completing Form W-4 and other paperwork, employers should advise employees to use their names exactly as they appear on their Social Security cards.
  • Even if they have not received a mismatch letter, employers can register to use SSA’s free BSO to review any errors in their W-2 file and check whether the name and SSN of their employees match SSA’s records using the Social Security Number Verification Service (“SSNVS”).
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