TN 3 (10-94)

RM 01105.020 Handling “Sensitive” Employer Inquiries

A. Introduction

Some employer and tax preparer inquiries SSA receives are considered “sensitive” and require special handling. Usually, these inquiries involve allegations that SSA has failed to process an employer's wage report properly.

When an inquiry is found to be “sensitive,” it receives special handling by OCRO's Employer Records Inquiries Section (ERIS). ERIS staff ensures corrective action (if needed) is taken, monitors the action through earnings report process operations until the report is posted properly to the MEF, and notifies appropriate parties when all this has been accomplished. The “appropriate party” may be the RO to which the original inquiry was referred by the FO, a Central Office component that received the initial inquiry, or the employer or tax preparer who may have contacted ERIS directly. In addition, OCRO produces monthly reports on the status of sensitive inquiries that are pending or have recently been completed. These are prepared for CO and RO informational purposes.

B. Definition

A “sensitive inquiry” is an allegation that SSA has failed to process or has processed incorrectly an employer's report and:

  • The report involved at least three employees; and

  • The report was filed at least 60 days previous to the inquiry or, if filed for a tax year which is currently being processed by SSA (e.g. 1993 tax year being processed in 1994), the inquiry is made after September of the current year; and

  • The report is not being investigated by OCRO's Magnetic Media Resubmittal Section or Reconciliation Processing Branch to identify and resolve the report processing problem;or

  • Failure to give special handling to the inquiry would create a hardship for the employer (tax preparer) or result in adverse public relations.

C. Procedure — Documenting the Inquiry

If an employer or tax preparer alleges SSA failed to process or processed incorrectly a wage report, obtain the following information and document the following (the worksheet as Exhibit 5 in RM 01105.039 may be used for this purpose):

  • Employer's name, address, employer identification number (EIN), and establishment number (if any was used);

  • Name and telephone number of employer or tax preparer contact;

  • Number of employees included in the report (If less than three employees, handle under the earnings discrepancy procedures in RM 03870.000.);

  • Tax year involved;

  • Whether SSA previously contacted the inquirer about the report and what the nature of that contact was.

If the wage report is for a year prior to the year before last and was returned by SSA for correction, refer the inquirer to OCRO's Reconciliation Processing Branch, TEL: (410) 966-9043; (e.g. 1992 wage report processed in calendar year 1993 is reconciled in 1994). If the report is for last year and was returned for correction, refer the inquirer to OCRO's Magnetic Media Resubmittal Section, TEL: (410) 965-4241);


  • Names and SSN's of three employees taken at random from the report;

  • When and where the report was filed and in what format (paper, tape, diskette, cartridge);

If the employer's report was filed less than 60 days previous to this or if filed for last tax year but before October of the current year, tell the inquirer sufficient time has not elapsed for SSA to process the report and when later to make further inquiry);


  • Total Social Security wages and total Medicare wages and tips reported;

  • How the problem was identified;

CAUTION: If the problem was identified by some employees having received PEBES statements showing gaps in posted wages, ask for names and SSN's of three of these employees in addition to the three employees' names and SSN's obtained above.

D. Procedure — FO

After obtaining DEQY's and NUMIDENT's for the employees whose names and SSN's were provided by the employer, the FO will evaluate the DEQY's and NUMIDENT's to determine whether the reporting problem involves an unprocessed (or incorrectly processed report); or unidentified W-2 which may be found in the Suspense File.

Use the following presumptions in the absence of other information that clearly identifies the type of reporting problem:

  • If DEQY's for the three employees whose names/SSN's were obtained all show posted wages from the employer for the tax year in question and the “Process Run” date is for the current year, advise the employer (tax preparer) that it appears the report was processed — absent other evidence the employer may have to the contrary.

  • If a DEQY for any of the three employees whose names/SSN's were taken at random show no posted wages from the employer for the tax year in question, check the corresponding NUMIDENTS. If any of the names/SSN's as given by the employer match the NUMIDENT name/SSN, for the three employees, assume there is a reporting error involving an unprocessed report.


    If DEQY's were also obtained for employees who received PEBES statements recently showing no earnings for the report year, use the same pre-sumptions for the “random” employees as described above unlessthe employer indicated that there were no more than three such employees and all of their NUMIDENTs fail to match the name/SSN as provided by the employer. In this case, handle as an earnings discrepancy under RM 03870.000ff.

NOTE: If the above actions show the inquiry should be handled as a “sensitive” inquiry, forward all information obtained from the employer and all supporting documentation (DEQY's, NUMIDENT's, etc.) to the Regional Magnetic Media Coordinator (Wage Reporting Specialist).

E. Procedure — RO

Regional Magnetic Media Coordinators (Wage Reporting Specialists) will determine from data available to the RO if the reporting problem has been resolved. If it has been resolved, the employer (tax preparer) will be so advised. If not, the ERIS staff will be requested to take necessary action to resolve the reporting problem. Appropriate RO controls will be established to ensure resolution is taken promptly.

F. Procedure — CO

Employer (tax preparer) allegations that SSA has failed to process a wage report or has processed it incorrectly may be received by a Central Office component. Refer such inquiries to ERIS staff in OCRO. However, where appropriate, ask the inquirer to provide the information described in RM 01105.020C so it can be given to the ERIS staff for prompt action. In such case, provide the information to the ERIS staff by telephone.

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RM 01105.020 - Handling <Quote>Sensitive</Quote> Employer Inquiries - 10/27/1994
Batch run: 04/29/2013