The Social Security Administration issues about 125,000 “no match” letters a year – meaning the Social Security Number an employee gave doesn’t match SSA records. Suppose you get one of those letters. What’s your next step?
Here’s what the employment-law experts at the law firm of Frederickson & Byron recommend:
Don’t ignore the letter. If you do, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ICE could cite the inaction as proof that you knew you employed an unauthorized worker. So, first, check your records to ensure there’s no typographic error in reporting the employee’s SSN.
- If there’s no error:
1. Share the “no match” letter with each employee listed on the letter.
2. Advise the employee to check to be sure that the correct name and SSN has been submitted to the SSA.
3. Don’t require the employee to produce his or her social security card or any other specific documentation; that could be considered document abuse under employment-eligibility-verification laws.
4. Give the employee a reasonable amount of time to investigate and/or correct any errors.
- If there is an error: In addition to submitting the correct information to the SSA, you should also correct the employee’s Form I-9. As with any employment matter, be sure to treat all employees listed on the “no match” letter similarly without regard to the employee’s national origin, race or citizenship status.
- If an employee admits to a false SSN: You must immediately terminate employment with your company.
- If an employee verifies that the information given is correct: Ask the employee if he or she can provide any other reason for the “no match” letter. If there’s none, report back to the SSA in writing that the company has reverified that the information submitted is correct and that neither you nor the employee can explain the discrepancy. Ask the SSA to contact the company if any additional employer action is required.
- If an employee verifies that the information given is correct but you uncover additional information: You may learn that, for other reasons – such as an admission of illegal residence – that the employee is unauthorized to work in the United States. If so, you terminate employment. Note: Without other evidence, a co-worker tip in and of itself isn’t basis for termination, or even reverification of an I-9.