This year, the Social Security Administration sent employers across the country, including numerous dairy producers, “no-match” letters. Employers who received these letters were informed that one or more 2018 W-2s contain names and Social Security numbers (SSN) that do not match the Social Security Administration’s records.
The stated purpose of the letter is to “make sure your employees get the benefits they are due.” The letter recommends that the employer use Social Security Administration’s “Business Services Online” (BSO) to view the nonmatching names and Social Security numbers, compare that information to the employer’s personnel records, and, if the employer discovers the discrepancy in its records, file a W-2C form with the correct name and Social Security numbers.
A tie to immigration?
Recipients of the letter have been concerned about its immigration implications — whether receiving the letter, and obtaining nonmatching names and Social Security numbers, imparts “constructive knowledge” that an employee is not authorized to work in the U.S. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits an employer from continuing to employ an employee, “knowing” the employee is or has become unauthorized.
The letter itself states: “This letter does not address your employee’s work authorization or immigration status.” While responding to a no-match letter is voluntary, and a no-match notification does not impart “constructive knowledge,” failing to take “reasonable steps” to investigate the discrepancy may fall short of an employer’s responsibilities under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
With the assistance of our legal counsel, we have determined that the appropriate response to a no-match letter:
1. Use BSO service to obtain the nonmatching names and Social Security numbers.
2. Review personnel records.
3. File a W-2C if the discrepancy is discovered there.
4. If the discrepancy is not found, notify the employee of the discrepancy and advise them to provide corrected information to the Social Security Administration.
Take appropriate steps
Taking further action is not recommended.
The letter warns employers: “You should not use this letter to take any adverse action against an employee, such as laying off, suspending, firing, or discriminating against that individual, just because his or her Social Security number or name does not match our records. Any of those actions could, in fact, violate State or Federal law and subject you to legal consequences.”
You may view a memorandum prepared by our legal counsel describing the recommended response to a no-match letter at idahodairymens.org/s/No-Match-Guidance.