TN 12 (04-05)

RM 03870.006 Limits On Earnings Records Development

A. Policy

The ER is always open to correction to add or increase earnings from an employer, to transfer earnings from one NH's MEF to another NH's MEF (or Suspense), or from one period to another.

1. When Not to Develop

Do not develop an allegation of an ER inaccuracy when:

  • The SEQY or DEQY shows the MEF has been corrected;

  • The period in question is not open to correction under the statute of limitations and an exception to the time limitation does not apply.

There are numerous exceptions to the statute of limitations which permit correction of the ER. The statute prohibits the deletion of earnings from an ER or the adding of self-employment unless an exception applies.

(RS 02201.008)

  • The period in question is lag. (See 2 below when lag earnings should be developed.)

If the NH questions the current year earnings, explain the lag period. Request the NH to contact the Social Security Administration if a W-2 is not received by January 31 of the following year. Advise the NH to also notify IRS if a W-2 is not received.

2. When to Develop

Develop an allegation of an ER inaccuracy unless one of the exceptions in 1. above apply.

Develop lag earnings when:

  • The earnings are needed for insured status in a claims case; or

  • In an initial claim, the claimant requests lag earnings be included in the benefit computation; or

  • The NH alleges that posted lag is incorrect; or

  • It appears from the NH's explanation that the lag earnings will not be posted.


The employer did not withhold Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes and the NH's employment is covered for Social Security purposes; or

  • The employer did not ask for the NH's SSN; or

  • The employer refused to give the NH a W-2.

If the NH questions earnings for the preceding calendar year, determine why the NH believes the earnings will not be posted. If the NH's reason for the non-posting of lag appears questionable, advise the NH to recontact the Social Security Administration approximately 6 months after the end of the current year for a Social Security Statement (or the office of contact may request a DEQY at that time) to determine if the wages were posted. Advise the NH to call or recontact SSA if the earnings are not posted at that time.

If the inquiry is made after July, query the ERQY to determine if an employer report has been received. If the ERQY indicates that the employer's report has been received, advise the NH of the fact and suggest that the NH request an earnings statement after the end of the year to verify if the earnings were posted.

3. When to Discontinue Development

Generally discontinue developing an allegation of an ER error if:

  • Any of the conditions in RM 03870.006A.1. apply or,

  • The NH refuses to cooperate (see RM 03870.006A.5. for issuing notice language when NH fails to cooperate).

  • NH has no additional evidence of earnings and the employer is cooperative but cannot locate or has no available records.

  • All contacts (initial and follow-up) to the NH, third parties, and employer(s), etc., have been exhausted, result in no additional evidence and it appears no additional secondary evidence is available.

NOTE: See RS 01403.080 when it is apparent that the employer has evidence of the NH's earnings but is refusing to cooperate or to provide any information concerning the NH's employment for possible subpoena procedures.

4. NH Requests Withdrawal

A NH may request withdrawal of his/her request for correction of the ER. The withdrawal request must:

  • Be signed by the NH, and

  • State the reason for the withdrawal, and

  • Clearly state what allegations of employment or self-employment are being withdrawn.

Advise the NH of the effect of the withdrawal on appeal rights.

Do Not Accept the withdrawal if there is sufficient evidence to provide an initial determination. Correct the MEF via IC and indicate in the Remarks (ERMK) screen (MSOM EM 017.005 ) the withdrawal request.

5. Notice Language for Development and Close-Out Purposes

Notice language is available for use by SSA's field offices (FOs) for earnings record development and close-out purposes. These notices have been updated to provide uniform language and timeframes to submit proof of earnings throughout SSA offices. These notices