Understanding “No-Match Letters” Issued by Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration (SSA) resumed its practice of issuing employer correction request letters, also known as “no-match letters.” A no-match letter is used to notify an employer of an employee whose name and Social Security number (SSN) on a wage and tax statement (form W-2) do not match the information in the SSA database. The stated purpose of these letters is to ensure that an employee who is, or may eventually become, eligible for Social Security benefits, is properly credited for payments made into the Social Security system. However, no-match letters have become controversial, because there have been attempts to use them to identify foreign nationals working in the United States without authorization, even though many no-match letters are the result of faulty data or other administrative errors for people who are properly using their own Social Security numbers.

Background on No-Match Letters

The SSA began issuing no-match letters in 1993, and in 2007, the (George W.) Bush Administration attempted to implement a rule that would have used no-match letters to help identify undocumented workers by imposing additional liabilities on employers that failed to resolve the matter or terminate the employee. A federal court soon blocked the rule and the Obama Administration ultimately rescinded the rule in 2009.

One of the primary problems with the use of no-match letters to identify undocumented workers is that the SSA database is notoriously unreliable. In fact, a 2006 report found that 70 percent of the SSA records showing “no-match” were actually for U.S. citizens.

Current Use of No-Match Letters

Although the SSA has resumed the issuance of no-match letters, they do not carry the draconian consequences imposed by the now-defunct 2007 rule. As the letters clearly state, there are numerous benign reasons that a person’s name and SSN may not match the information the SSA has on record.

The no-match letter does not directly disclose immigration status of the employee in question, and specifically informs the employer that such letters cannot be used as a basis for terminating an employee. Still, many lawmakers and activists surmise that the letters are a move by the Trump Administration to target immigrant communities by intimidating workers and their employers.

What Should an Employer Do Upon Receipt of a No-Match Letter?

Upon receipt of a no-match letter, the employer should check to verify that the employee’s name and Social Security number listed in the employee’s W-2 match the information provided by the employee. If there is an error, the employer should correct the information by submitting form W-2C. If there is no error, the employer should request the employee to provide the employer with the exact information as shown on the employee’s Social Security card. If this information matches the information on the W-2, the employer should ask the employee to check with the Social Security Administration to resolve the matter.


Although a no-match letter can be an intimidating document for an employer to receive, it is important to remember that it does not mean the employee lacks work authorization. Stakeholders with questions about no-match letters may consult with a Murthy Law Firm attorney.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.