got a letter from the Social Security Administration with a
list of about 10 names and social security numbers that they
say they have different names for those numbers. What does
this mean and why am I getting this now?
letters, referred to as "mismatch" letters, are sent when
names submitted to the IRS with social security numbers do
not match the name on record or when the mismatch is
discovered through an audit of other employment eligibility
forms (I-9). This can be caused by an error on the part of
the employee, the employer or a governmental agency. It does
require the employer to take action when the notice is
received. Some of the most common reasons for these
Typographical error in
data entry to payroll system or Human Resource Information
Misreading of employee
handwriting on payroll enrollment forms
Use of different name form
for the same person, e.g. Tom Jackson, Jr. vs. Thomas R.
Marriage name changes not
reported to both systems
Use of fraudulent
Recently, the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) has stepped up enforcement of the
Immigration Control and Reform Act which is the Act
requiring employers to complete and retain I-9’s. The new
focus on this issue means many more of these letters are
When an employer receives such
a letter, the following steps should be taken:
Employers should not jump
to the conclusion that the employee has been dishonest nor
that they are in trouble.
Employers should check
files and electronic systems to be sure all of the
documentation and data they have agree.
Resolve any internal
If employer documentation
shows no discrepancies, they should talk with the employees
involved if they are still employed and notify them of the
The employee must contact
the Social Security Administration (SSA) to research the
error if there is no discrepancy found.
The employee should
receive verification from the SSA if it is an error on the
part of the SSA and a receipt or letter that new
documentation is being provided.
If the employee is no
longer employed, employers should still recheck all of the
documents for that employee and resolve any error they find
in that research.
email TPO to request a copy of the "Mismatch Checklist".
DHS has two new rules being
considered (issued June 9, 2006). One of the new rules being
promoted by the DHS includes a "Safe Harbor" provision for
employers who respond to the letters. Employers must do the
following in order to qualify for the provision:
Check the employer’s
records to ensure that the discrepancy did not result from a
typographical or similar clerical error.
Resubmit the information
if a clerical error resulted in the discrepancy.
Ask the employee promptly
to confirm that the employer’s records are correct if the
discrepancy cannot be resolved.
Take steps to correct an
error if the employer’s records are not right.
Ask the worker to pursue
the matter personally with the relevant agency (such as
contacting the SSA) if the employer’s records are correct.
Reverify the individual’s
employment authorization without using the documents that
were the subject of the no-match letter if the employer is
unable to resolve the discrepancy within 60 days of receipt
of the no-match letter.
The DHS has warned that
continuing to employ a worker when the mismatch cannot be
resolved could be seen as "employer [having] constructive
knowledge of employing an alien unauthorized to work in the
U.S." This means that employers should not allow employees
to continue to work if they are unable to resolve the
In addition to review of
documents and completion of I-9’s for new employees,
employers can check for match between name and social
security numbers at
Important things for employers
to remember include:
Employers may not specify
which documents from the lists provided for I-9’s an
Employees may not work
beyond 72 hours without having provided the necessary
documentation to show they are legally allowed to work.
documents are acceptable for the employer to review.
Documents that have
expiration dates (other than a US passport) must be
reverified and some sort of reminder system should be put in
place to ensure the updating of expired documentation occurs
in a timely manner.