Tuesday, August 25, 2009

DHS to Drop Enforcement of “No Match” letters

The Obama administration has decided to drop the enforcement of “no match” letters proposed by the Bush administration. In response to an injunction issued in by the Northern District Court in California, DHS will amend its previous policy of “cracking down” on employers who ignore no-match letters from Social Security. Instead they will focus on efforts to enforce employers’ compliance with verification requirements by increasing “raids’ on suspected violators and encouraging online verification programs. These programs are designed for employers to check the documents or status of their workers by imputing the information into an online system that will check the information and determine its validity.

A “no match letter” is a notice sent by Social Security when their records show a discrepancy between a person’s name and social security number submitted by employers on their W-2 Forms and the information in SSA databases. If Social Security finds the combination is not a match, then they send no match letters in order to inform the employer of the mismatch. There are many reasons why a person’s information my not “match-up” including name changes, clerical error’s, or invalid social security numbers.

In August of 2007, DHS took the position that receipt of these letters required the employer to undertake verification procedures or risk criminal prosecution. Two weeks after DHS announced their now policy, the district court granted a restraining order, preventing DHS from enforcing the policy. The Court found that these notices were unduly prejudicial, and that DHS exceeded its authority in their interpretation of the anti-discrimination laws.

As a result of the Court’s decision, and due to DHS’s improvement of their online verification system, DHS has announced they will rescind their August 2007 No-Match Rule. This means employers should no longer feel obligated to respond to these no match letters, but should instead concentrate on orientating themselves with these new online verification programs.

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