In 2011, the Social Security Administration (SSA) resumed sending "no-match" letters to employers. A no-match letter is sent when employees’ names and social security numbers (SSNs) on their W-2 forms do not match SSA records.

What are Some Innocent Reasons for No-Match Letter?

A non-match of employees name and SSNs may occur for many innocent reasons:

  • Name and/or SSN misspelling
  • Name change
  • Hyphenated or compound names
  • Mistakes or incompletes in W-2 and / or W-4 forms
  • Identity theft

Does A No-Match Letter Indicate Employer or Employee Liability?

A no-match letter should not be construed against an employee. An employee should not be viewed as undocumented due to a no-match letter.

The SSA no-match letter does not show an employee’s immigration status. Therefore, receipt of a no-match letter does not infer that an employer had constructive knowledge that an employee may lack authorization to work. However, an employer’s failure to address a no-match letter may lead to liability.

What Steps Should Employers Take?

Employers should follow reasonable steps and periodically meet with employees to address this issue. The resolution must occur within a reasonable timeframe. Employers should take the following reasonable steps:

  • Check employee’s SSN and name against payroll and other records
  • Warn employee about no-match letter and ask employee to verify SSN and name
  • Tell employee to get in touch with SSA to updated the records
  • Check in with affected employee(s) systematically to verify issue resolution
  • Try getting correct information even from a past employee
  • May want to document steps taken to address the no-match letter
  • Submit correct information to SSA

Employee Protections

Employer cannot fire, suspend, or take any other adverse action against an employee based on the receipt of SSA no-match letter. Employers should not use no-match notice, or the fact that an employee complaints about how the issue had been addressed, to discriminate or retaliate against employees. Doing otherwise may violate anti-discrimination provisions of Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as well as other state and federal laws.

Should I Ask for Help from an Attorney?

Employers may need an experienced immigration attorney because resolving no-match letter issues is part of form I-9 compliance. A qualified government attorney will help responding to new no-match letters and dealing with the old ones, as well as developing a standard plan of responses for the future.

If, as an employee, you had been terminated or discriminated against because of a no-match letter, a qualified employment attorney may help you.