In late March of 2019, the Social Security Administration (SSA) began sending out “Employer Correction Request” letters directing employers to correct erroneous names and Social Security numbers (SSN) on the employers’ Forms W-2. Many refer to these letters as “Social Security mismatch letters” because they say that the names and SSN provided on the Forms W-2 do not match SSA’s records.
Social Security mismatch letters are not “new.” The SSA sent them to employers from time to time from 1993 through 2012, at which point they were discontinued under the Obama administration. Now, the SSA has renewed its practice.
If you receive a Social Security mismatch letter, take swift and careful action — “swift” because the letter tells employers to provide the SSA with corrections within 60 days of receiving the letter, and “careful” because employers cannot use the fact of receiving the letter by itself to conclude that the affected employees are unauthorized to work legally in the US or to take any adverse action against those employees.
We do not recommend that you ignore the letter. If your company undergoes an immigration and/or I-9 audit, and if immigration officials determine any of the employees subject to the mismatch letter are unlawfully employed, then they potentially could treat failure to address the letter as “constructive knowledge” of those employees’ unlawful employment, which could lead to civil and criminal penalties. In addition, if the employer continues to file inaccurate Forms W-2 (i.e., continues to file Forms W-2 for these employees using the same information that generated this letter), it could be subject to fines from the IRS for inaccurate Forms W-2. Yet another consequence for continuing to use the wrong names and/or socials could be inaccurate Forms 1095-C, which could result in inaccuracy penalties from the IRS.
Here’s a cautious step by step approach to address a Social Security mismatch letter:
Here are some important things to know as you move through the process:
For more information, please contact us.
Sarah provides employer-focused guidance on human resource matters. With an emphasis on employee benefits and the Affordable Care Act, she distils the complexity of employment laws into understandable action items that meet a client’s business goals.
Sarah provides employer-focused guidance on human resource matters. With an emphasis on employee benefits and the Affordable Care Act, she distils the complexity of employment laws into understandable action items that meet a client’s business goals. During previous private practice experience, Sarah handled numerous complex benefit matters, including the transition of benefit plans in large corporate acquisitions, de-risking solutions in pension plans, contested health plan claims, DOL and IRS audits and the implementation of ACA-compliant health plan solutions. Sarah graduated from University of Wisconsin Law School, with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Grinnell College.
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