Sunday, August 12, 2007

No-Match Letters

Fact Sheet
August 10, 2007
Contact: ICE Public Affairs
(ICE is the Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the Department of Homeland Security)

ICE and Social Security Administration “No-Match” Letters

Every year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) informs thousands of employers via a “nomatch” letter that certain employees’ names and corresponding Social Security numbers provided on Forms W-2 do not match SSA’s records.

Out of approximately 250 million wage reports the SSA receives each year, as many as four percent belong to employees whose names and corresponding Social Security numbers do not match SSA’s records.

Through regulation, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is reiterating that employers remain accountable for the workers they hire and clarifying the steps employers should take to resolve mismatches identified in letters issued by SSA.

The DHS regulations provide guidance that will help employers comply with legal hiring requirements by outlining specific steps they should take under immigration law when they are notified that employees’ names or corresponding Social Security numbers as provided on Forms W-2 do not match SSA records.

SSA is not changing its procedures for issuing employer no-match letters, and SSA guidance on how to correct Social Security records is unchanged.

However, no-match letters issued by the SSA for Tax Year 2006 will be accompanied by a letter from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) informing employers on how to respond to the employer no-match letter in a manner consistent with obligations under U.S. immigration laws.

There are many reasons for a mismatch between employer and SSA records, including transcription errors and name changes due to marriage that are not reported to SSA. Employers should not assume that the mismatch is the result of any wrongdoing on the part of the employee. Moreover, an employer who takes action against an employee based on nothing more substantial than a mismatch letter may, in fact, violate the law.

The DHS regulations and the ICE letter describe with specificity what steps employers should take upon receipt of a no-match letter:

1) verifying within 30 days that the mismatch was not the result of a record-keeping error on the employer’s part;

2) requesting that the employee confirm the accuracy of employment records;

3) asking the employee to resolve the issue with SSA;

4) if these steps lead to resolution of the problem, follow instructions on the no-match letter itself to correct information with SSA, and retain a record of the verification with SSA; and

5) where the information could not be corrected, complete a new I-9 form without using the questionable Social Security number and instead using documentation presented by the employee that conforms with the I-9 document identity requirements and includes a photograph and other biographic data. Employers unable to confirm employment through these procedures risk liability for violating the law by knowingly continuing to employ unauthorized persons.

ICE has developed a comprehensive interactive section on its website,, which will answer no-match related questions, or your inquiries may be directed to ICE at 800-421-7105.
Bush Administration Reversing Stand on Illegal Immigration?

I'm leery of it and I doubt it. The Bush Administration had taken such a hard-line stand on amnesty (I will not refer to it as anything else), that I don't understand the back-peddling. I think there is more here than meets the eye.

Could it be that by requiring business doing business with the Federal government to verify an applicant's Social Security status, the Administration thinks that Big Business will get behind the next attempt to push amnesty through Congress? Do not doubt it, they will try again,sooner or later.

Congress sees way too many potential votes in their future to not make another stab at getting an amnesty bill through. Illegal alien activists will also be watching and acting on this. We must be vigilant or it will happen. The WAshington Post is behind the Administration's actions, thinking that it will make life more difficult for illegals and the companies they work for, enough to make Congress "realize" that they must push amnesty through the system because mass legalization is necessary.

What is the Administration doing? There are two specific promises that have been made. On the surface, they look good, but remember, these promises are in reference to businesses.

1: An aggressive "no-match letter" effort notifying larger employers about all their employees whose Social Security numbers do not currently match federal records.

Apparently, these letters go out routinely, and usually end up in file 13. Now the Administration says they will levy heavy fines or even criminal charges on businesses who do not comply. It does not apply to just new hires, but to their entire staff, so someone on the payroll for years, but with a Social Security number that doesn't match their SS records will be identified.

The only problem I see with that is there are people who are legal whose SS file was compromised by computer error or human error at the SS level. It happens. That's one reason every (legal) person should check their SS records periodically. If there is a problem, it can be corrected now, instead of when you apply for benefits and you don't get what you are entitled to because your pay has not been entered correctly. It will be a headache for the business and the individual, but worth the inconvenience to the employee because their records will be corrected now instead of later.

The major inconvenience will be for the business who has employees who are using someone else's SS number or a fake number. They will have to deal with it. Personally, if I owned a business, I'd be telling my employees what was happening and that they needed to contact SS to verify that SS has the correct number and to correct any problems now. I'd also conduct my own audit by having my Human Resources department cross checking SS numbers with employees and with SS. I'd identify possible problems now and deal with it rather than face the penalties. Big companies with hundreds and thousands of employees might have a harder time with this but there must be some way to do it. These are the companies that will fight it and back Congress in getting a new amnesty bill through.

2: A requirement that all companies doing business with the federal government participate in the electronic verification system -- now called E-VERIFY -- for all their new hires.

Right now, I don't see a problem with this. It's a verification process operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration that assures an applicant/new hire is legal. I haven't looked into it much, I admit, but it looks like something a business concerned with complying with these new requirements should look into.

Do I like Big Brother getting involved in hiring practices of private sector businesses? No, I'd rather government keep their nose out of business and get on with it's Constitutionally required duties. But, when someone, even government makes a mess, I expect them to clean it up.