August 29, 2011
More than 700,000 employers in the U.S. received mismatch, or "no-match" letters from the Social Security Administration this year—but now because of budget cuts, those letters will cease.
Implemented as a cost-savings measure, on Aug. 27 Social Security suspended its practice of sending mismatch letters to employers. "Social security has been hit very hard by the budget," says Lowell Kepke, social security spokesperson. "Because of that we’re looking in every nook and cranny, where we do things that cost money that are nice to do but are not legally required." The projected cost savings was not immediately available.
It's only a handful of mismatches that employers are ever notified of; social security first notifies employees, and the majority of mismatches are easily resolved (and most frequently attributed to name changes due to marriages or divorces).
It's only once the administration tries making contact, but cannot reach an employee, that they send a mismatch letter to an employer. For the 2010 tax year, social security sent out more than 5 million mismatch letters to employees.
About 4 percent of wage earners are left with unresolved social security mismatches every year, and about 1 in 6 of those are agricultural workers. Social security does not break down mismatch letters by geography, so no data on how many mismatches there were in Monterey County was available. A report released in July shows that Monterey and San Benito counties have the highest proportions of undocumented immigrants of anywhere in the state, at 13.5 percent of the population.
It's not the first time social security has switched gears when it comes to sending employers notifications; the practice had been suspended until April of this year. This change comes as Congress continues a prolonged debate as to the future of an electronic database, known as e-verify, that would resolve this type of mismatch early on in the hiring process. The agriculture industry, which opposes the immigration status verification system, estimates that 70 percent of its workforce would be lost if e-verify becomes mandatory.