TN 4 (03-16)

RM 01101.002 Glossary for the Wage Reporting Process

The following table lists the names and definitions of some of the terms used in the wage reporting process:





Free SSA software that checks W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement), and W-2c (Corrected Wage and Tax Statement) reports for accuracy before employers and submitters send them to SSA.

Annual Wage Reporting


A process by which employers and submitters send their employees’ earnings and taxes to SSA on an annual basis.

Balanced or In Balance

The condition when money totals reported agree with processed totals computed by SSA systems (within an acceptable tolerance).


Business Services Online


SSA’s internal web site that offers employers and submitters the ability to register and login to perform electronic wage reporting services.

Combined Annual Wage Reporting (CAWR)

The method used to exchange wage and tax information between SSA and IRS. FICA, non-FICA, and Medicare wage reports are included in this process.

Earnings Suspense File


An SSA electronic database that stores earnings data in which the reported name and Social Security number (SSN) do not match SSA’s Numident records.

Electronic Data Transfer


An alternative filing method, which allows Federal and State agencies to transfer annual wage data directly to SSA’s National Computer Center.

Electronic Wage Reporting


A suite of services by which employers and submitters submit employees’ earnings and tax information to SSA electronically.

Employer Identification Number


A nine-digit number assigned by the IRS to an organization for federal tax reporting purposes. It is formatted as xx-xxxxxxx.

Employer Services Liaison Officer. Regional Wage Reporting Specialist (ESLO)

SSA’s wage reporting specialists located in regional offices across the country that assists with a variety of wage reporting issues.

Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA)

A law that requires employers to withhold taxes (also called a payroll tax) from employee earnings to fund the Social Security and Medicare programs. The employer also pays a tax equal to the amount withheld from employee earnings.

Employer Wage Reports

Wage reports that consist of the following: Form W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement), with a Form W-3 (Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements), or a Form W-2c (Corrected Wage and Tax Statement) with a Form W-3c (Transmittal of Corrected Wage and Tax Statements); or in the case of employers in Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico, the equivalent versions of these forms; and/or electronic filing equivalent of these forms.

Form W-2

(Wage and Tax Statement)

An IRS form used by employers and submitters to send employee wage and tax data to SSA.

Form W-2c

(Corrected Wage and Tax Statement)

An IRS form used by employers and submitters to send corrected employee wage and tax data to SSA

Form W-3

(Transmittal of Corrected Wage and Tax Statement)

An IRS transmittal form used by employers and submitters to send employee wage and tax data to SSA with Forms W-2.

Form W-3c

(Transmittal of Corrected Wage and Tax Statements)

An IRS transmittal form used by employers and submitters to send forms W-2c to SSA for employees.

Form 1040

(U.S. Individual Income Tax Return)

The standard IRS form that individuals use to file their annual income tax returns.

Item/Wage Item

Data that is contained in our records corresponding to a report of individual earnings. Reports of individual earnings include domestic and territorial Forms W-2, Form W-2c, and Schedule SE (Form 1040).

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number


A tax processing number issued by the IRS to certain non-resident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who do not qualify for a Social Security Number (SSN). ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status. ITINs are issued for the purpose of federal tax reporting or filing requirements.

Master Earnings File


An electronic SSA database that stores the earnings information for each individual with an SSN.

Memorandum of Understanding


Under the CAWR system, SSA and IRS share wage data and attempt to resolve, or reconcile, any differences in wages reported to them.

National Computer Center


SSA's main computer facility located in Baltimore, Maryland.

Numident Identification File


A record that is established when an individual applies for an SSN which contains an individual’s name, SSN, sex, self-reported race, date and place of birth



A process that compares employees’ wage data submitted to IRS (Forms 941, 943, 944 and Schedule H) against employees’ wage data submitted to SSA (processed totals from Forms W-2 and Forms W-3).


To transfer a wage item from SSA's suspense file to the Master Earnings File (MEF) after the correct SSN and name for it has been identified so that the item can be posted to the proper individual's earnings record.

Resubmission Notice

A notice that is produced and sent to employers and submitters when a submission is rejected.


To machine read a wage report (or other document) using an optical character recognition device.



Operation of a trade or business by an individual or by a partnership in which the individual is a member.

Schedule H

Household Employment Taxes (Form 1040).

An IRS form used by employers to report household employment taxes.

Schedule SE

(Form 1040) Self-Employment Tax


An IRS tax form used by self-employed individuals to compute the tax due on net earnings from self-employment.

Self-Employment Contribution Act (SECA)

A tax law that requires self-employed individuals to pay both the employer and employee portions of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax (a combination of Social Security and Medicare).

Social Security Number Verification Service


A free SSA online service, which allows registered users to verify the names and Social Security numbers of current and former employees for wage reporting purposes only.

Specifications for Filing Forms W-2 Electronically


SSA formatting instructions issued annually for payroll providers and employers when filing Forms W-2 electronically with SSA.

Specifications for Filing Forms W-2c Electronically



SSA formatting instructions issued annually for payroll providers and employers when submitting Forms W-2c to SSA.


A paper or electronic wage report that is submitted to SSA from employers or submitters that contains annual earnings for employees of one or more companies.


A person, organization, or reporting agent submitting a wage report that submits one or more wage reports to SSA.

Taxpayer Identification Number



An identification number used in the administration of tax laws. It is issued either by SSA or IRS. A SSN is issued by SSA whereas all other TINs are issued by the IRS (e.g.; EINs, ITINs).

Tax Year


A year for which the earnings are paid and reported to SSA on Forms W-2, or by a self-employed individual.


The process for verifying a reported SSN is correct by matching it to SSA's Numident records.

Wilkes-Barre Direct Operations Center. (WBDOC)

The component responsible for receiving and controlling all paper wage reports. They also optically scan (key, if not able to be scanned), perform data entry, and transmit electronic wage data to Baltimore for AWR processing.

W-2/W-3 Online


Allows users to create, save, print, and submit Forms W-2/W-3 online.

W-2c/W-3c Online

Allows users to file online corrections to previously submitted Forms W-2 regardless of the original form of submission.

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RM 01101.002 - Glossary for the Wage Reporting Process - 03/10/2016
Batch run: 05/19/2016