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April 21, 2010 | HRIS | Posted by Ascentis Thought Leadership

Handling and Avoiding SSN Discrepancies

Safe handling of employees' personal information is one of the most sensitive and substantial tasks your human resources and workforce management teams are entrusted with. When it comes to workplace cybersecurity, few pieces of data are more heavily protected than Social Security Numbers (SSN). While most employers have tools and processes in place to guard SSNs against theft, there is often more confusion about what to do when a Social Security Number discrepancy arises.

Most SSN discrepancies come during the process of submitting employee wage reports on Form W-2. That's the form that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to determine whether a worker is entitled to Social Security benefits, and how much they receive. In order to attribute those earnings to a specific employee's record, the SSA must be able to match the record to a name and SSN listed on the W-2.

What happens when an SSA record doesn't match?

If the SSA can't match a name and SSN to their records, the administration sends a letter to the address listed on the unmatched worker's Form W-2. If the worker's W-2 does not list an address or includes an address that can't be located in the Postal Service database of valid addresses, the letter will instead be sent to the employer listed on the W-2. Any employer that reports more than 10 no-matches representing more than 0.5% of the employer's total W-2s will also receive a letter from the SSA.

How to respond to a No-Match Letter

An SSA employer notice will advise the employer of the discrepancies and request that they prepare a Corrected Wage and Tax Statement known as Form W-2c.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also recommends that any employee with a discrepancy in their SSA records contact Social Security to set the record correct. The SSA recommends that any employee who has lost their Social Security card, or whose Social Security card does not show the correct name or SSN, should contact the local Social Security Office. It is then the employee's responsibility to update the employer with the correct information as shown on the Social Security card or the corrected card.

How to prevent SSN discrepancies

Common reasons for employee information not matching SSA records include:

  • Typographical errors
  • Unreported name changes
  • Inaccurate or incomplete employer records
  • Misuse of a SSN

Investing in an employee self-service system can go a long way toward helping employers avoid those and other SSA reporting errors. By allowing employees to access and update their personal HR, benefits, and payroll information via a website or mobile app, your organization can empower workers while reducing the risk of noncompliance. Learn more about the ways Ascentis can help you avoid SSN discrepancies by processing address and name changes, displaying HRIS data for employee verification, and more.

With more than 35 years of experience in providing Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, Ascentis thought leaders have become a respected source for insights, tips, and innovations in the Human Capital Management (HCM) space.