The Social Security Administration (SSA) has reached an agreement with three of its unions on its COVID-19 re-entry plan.
SSA offices have been essentially closed to the public since March 2022. That affected SSA’s ability to resolve E-Verify Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNCs) due to a no-match between a person’s name and Social Security Number. The result has been that TNCs due to a Social Security no-match have remained unresolved in some cases for over one year.
E-Verify policy requires employers to notify employees of a TNC within 10 federal government workdays. If the employee decides to contest the TNC, the employee has eight federal government days to respond by reaching out to SSA (or, in some cases, to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)). If the employee is successful, SSA or DHS will update its records and the case in E-Verify. Generally, it should take the government about two federal government days to update the records.
Early in the pandemic, E-Verify relaxed the timing standards regarding TNCs as government closures created an inability to resolve any type of TNC. This relaxation continued until November 2020, when most agencies reopened. Since then, employers have been required to follow the usual timelines.
The problem is that, despite the government’s decision to reinstate its usual timing rules, SSA remained closed to the public. We now know that was due, at least in part, to union negotiations. Some employers reportedly have been waiting for up to a year for SSA TNCs to be resolved, despite multiple attempts to reach SSA. This has created confusion and potential compliance issues because employers cannot take any action to resolve the problem, cannot terminate an employee who is contesting the TNC, and yet the employers remain subject to possible penalties for failure to close a TNC case.
As SSA opens its doors to the public, perhaps the backlogs will begin to resolve.