Handling Inquiries Relating to SSA Letters on No-Match Names and Social Security Numbers
(SSNs) (RM 01105.027)
Title II of the Social Security Act requires the Social Security Administration (SSA) to maintain earnings records for covered workers. Maintaining accurate earnings records is necessary in determining an employee’s benefit amount. Employers are required to report wages annually for each employee on Form W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement). Social Security processes these wage reports as an agent of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). SSA also processes self-employment income data from the IRS.
During the Annual Wage Reporting Process, a wage report may fail validation because it does not have a social security number (SSN) or name, or the SSN or name submitted does not match information on our records. For a number of reasons, reported earnings information may not agree with our records. These include typographical errors, unreported name changes, inaccurate or incomplete employer records, or misuse of an SSN. In these cases, SSA places the earnings information in the Earnings Suspense File (ESF) instead of posting the earnings to a worker’s record.
SSA attempts to resolve items placed in the ESF by sending letters to employees, employers, and self-employed workers to inform them that a reported name or SSN does not match SSA’s records. We refer to these no-match letters as decentralized correspondence (DECOR) notices, and their purpose is to obtain corrected information to help SSA identify the worker to whom the earnings belong so that we can post the earnings to the correctly identified worker’s earnings record. Social Security began sending DECOR notices in 1979.
SSA sends DECOR notices to individual employees (SSA-L3365-C1 (Request to Employee for Social Security Information)) and self-employed workers (Form SSA-L2765-C1 (Request for Self-Employment Information)) to inform them of name and SSN no-matches.
We derive the address of the employee from the Form W-2 and the self-employed worker’s address from the data provided by the IRS.
If an employee’s address is available and the address does not exist in the United States Postal Service database, or if an employee’s address is unavailable, we send a notice (SSA- L4002-C1 (Request for Employer Information)) to the employer. This notice requests information about the earnings reported by the employer for the employee and placed in the ESF.
NOTE: SSA does not and is not required to retain the initial DECOR notice sent to the employee or employer.
We did not send employer DECOR notices for tax years 2007 through 2009 because of litigation surrounding a proposed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulation involving a related correspondence process. DHS later rescinded the proposed regulation, and we resumed sending employer DECOR notices in April 2011 (for tax year 2010). We did not send the notices we held for tax years 2007 through 2009.
For tax years 1993 through 2005, we sent “Code V” educational correspondence (EDCOR) to employers if their wage reports included more than a certain number of employee names and SSNs that we could not match to our records. The exact criteria for sending these notices varied over the years.
We stopped sending Code V EDCOR as of tax year 2006 in response to litigation surrounding a proposed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulation that would have required employers to follow a prescribed course of action upon learning of an employee name or SSN discrepancy, or “no match.” DHS later rescinded the proposed regulation, and the Commissioner decided in 2011 to discontinue this correspondence process.
The Wilkes-Barre Data Operations Center generates the DECOR notices (Forms SSA-L2765–C1, SSA-L3365-C1 and SSA-L4002-C1) and includes a return envelope with the following address:Social Security Administration
Data Operations Center
P.O. Box 39
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18767-0039
E. Employer 800 number agent, field office (FO) and national 800 number agent procedures for handling employer inquiries
Employer 800 Number Agents: If you have questions, contact Office of Earnings Operations (OEO) analysts in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
FO and National 800 Number Agents: If you have questions, contact your regional office Employer Services Liaison Officer (ESLO).