The Return of No-Match Letters

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has resumed sending employers no-match letters, Mary Pivec, an attorney with Keller and Heckman, told SHRM Online in an April 12, 2011, interview. The SSA stopped sending no-match letters after litigation arose in 2007 challenging a proposed no-match rule issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Match letters are issued by the SSA when a certain employee’s name does not match a valid SSN.  The proposed no-match rule was to declare that any no-match letter was not enough to declare a worker ineligible.  The proposed rule provides guidelines for employers to respond to the letters in compliance with immigration laws, but after the rule was challenged in federal court in 2007 it was enjoined from moving forward.
Employers now are left with the question of how to respond to no-match letters in the absence of a no-match rule, Pivec said. The no-match letter says that employers do not have to respond to the letter. However, if employers don’t respond, the SSA may refer the matter to the Internal Revenue Service or the Justice Department for criminal prosecution of Social Security fraud, Pivec cautioned.

Employers should give employees whose Social Security numbers don’t match their names a reasonable period to resolve a no-match, which Pivec said is 60 to 120 days. Employers should not ignore the letters, she cautioned. When the no-match letters come in, note the date they arrived and have an action plan on how to respond.  Once HR knows about the receipt of a no-match letter, it should make sure that the no-match didn’t result from a typo or other mix-up in its own records.

People who might receive the letters include the chief financial officer (CFO), a tax preparer and an outside accounting firm. Because HR probably will not be the recipient, HR should contact the CFO now to let that person know these letters may be coming in and what to do if they receive a letter.

The resumption of SSA no-match letters became effective as of March 22, 2011.

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