In June 2015, the Social Security Administration posted an updated version of the Social Security Number Verification Service Handbook on its website.
This process has been around for years, and it’s where an employer, either by phone or electronically, can easily submit names and social security numbers of employees to the Social Security Administration. SSA will compare those names to their records and report back to the employer any mismatches.
In order to participate in this service an employer must first register with Business Services Online. The change in the recently updated handbook addresses some situations where registrants may not be able to register online and may need to contact SSA:
- If the registrant’s current employer did not file a Form W-2 with the SSA
- If the registrant is currently self-employed but did not submit self-employment earnings to the IRS in the previous year
In these cases, BSO will instruct the registrant to contact SSA to provide additional information.
The change in the recently updated handbook deals specifically with the strictly limited proper use of the SSNV process. SSA performs this verification for the sole purpose of ensuring that names and SSNs on Forms W-2 match the information on file with SSA. It is illegal to verify SSNs of applicants who have not yet been officially hired; only use this service after the employer-employee relationship has been established.
The updated handbook also deals specifically with instances where mismatches are reported. Employers may not take adverse action against any employee just because a SSN mismatch has been returned. Taking such adverse action may violate state or federal law. A mismatch itself does not indicate that the employee intentionally provided an incorrect name or SSN. A mismatch itself does not indicate any immigration status issues. A mismatch itself is not a basis upon which to take any action such as lay off, suspending, firing or discriminating.