Is your W-2 correct?

Q: Everyone at work calls me Bill rather than my formal name of William. I just received my W-2 form and it used Bill. Will this be a problem since my Social Security card shows my name as William?

A: This will not be a problem but it is strongly recommended that both your Social Security number (SSN) card and W-2 form use your legal name. 

 

Although popular nicknames such as Bill for William will match to Social Security records, you should bring this to the attention of your employer immediately for correction. W-2 forms should also be reviewed to be sure your SSN is correctly shown, with your employer immediately told of any problems.

 

If reversed, with your name correct on your W-2 form but not your Social Security card, you should correct your SSN record very soon. Whether for marriage, divorce or other reason, make sure you change your name with Social Security as well as with your employer. A mismatch could delay your tax refund and cause problems with your Social Security benefits in the future.

  

Name changes and all other Social Security number actions are provided at no charge by Social Security. See http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber/ for instructions.

 

Employers: You can still register for Social Security Business Services Online (BSO) to transmit your 2013 W-2 information electronically. Registration instructions are in the BSO Handbooks, Tutorial & Videos section. For additional assistance, call the employer support phone number.

 

 

 

 

Just received: Tax Year 2013 Business Service Online updates

Last week I posted a reminder about the free Social Security Business Services Online. Once registered with BSO, you can verify employee Social Security numbers online and transmit W-2 information electronically.

For those already registered, todays post provides recently received Tax Year 2013 BSO reminders:

  • Changes to the Tax Year 2013 file format are here
  • To keep your existing Business Services Online account current, see these user reminders
  • On December 23, 2013, BSO will be available for accepting Tax Year 2013 and prior year files and Form W-2 online inputs.
  •  March 31, 2014, is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) deadline for 2013 electronic W-2 filing.

To use Business Services Online, you or the appropriate people from your firm must register. Registration instructions are at http://www.ssa.gov/employer/ in the Handbooks, Tutorial & Videos section. Registration is not difficult. As one of several security measures, those registering are asked for the business EIN number as well as their own name, Social Security number, and other information. A User ID and PIN is created for each person registering, not just one for the business.  

Do you have questions about Business Services Online? See here.

Social Security card replacement: what do you need?

People often think they need a replacement Social Security number (SSN) card if they cannot find their old one. Replacing a missing Social Security card is easy and free to do but first consider if you really need one. You probably do not.

When you think about it, the card is just a piece of paper, not proof of identity. Knowing your Social Security number is the important part and usually all you will need. Memorize your SSN and you will always have it if needed.

Employer reminder: register with Social Security Business Services Online (BSO) and use the Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS) to verify a new employee’s SSN online immediately.

If you reallywant or need to get a replacement card, either for yourself or for a child, you can find all the details at the Social Security website, www.socialsecurity.gov. From the homepage, click on the Numbers & Cards tab and then go to the Social Security Number & Card section. There you select if the SSN card desired is for a child or adult, if the needed card is for an original, replacement or corrected card such as for a name change, and citizenship of the person involved. Each step explains what you need.

 Warning: make sure you are at the genuine Social Security website and not at a private, for profit site. There is no charge for any Social Security number action. To protect your personal ID information, at the genuine www.socialsecurity.gov website you do not enter your information online. Instead, you print the application for offline completion.

Reading instructions is important. In most cases you simply print, complete and either mail or bring the application to Social Security with the correct documents.

What are these documents? They vary with the situation. Learn what documents you specifically need by using the very simple learn what documents you need section of the Social Security Number & Card page.

Doing this will make processing your application go smoothly for both you and SSA. For example, a replacement card for a U.S. born adult requires proof of citizenship, if not previously established on your Social Security number record, and identity. A list of suitable documents is shown, with a U.S. driver’s license being first on the identity list.

Note that the documents you use must be originals or copies certified by the issuing agency and not a photocopy you made or a notarized copy.  

Exceptions apply but usually identity documents must be current and show your name, some other identifying information such as your birthdate and preferably a recent photograph. Based on this, you can readily see that a birth certificate would not be acceptable for adult identity although it could prove citizenship, if needed, while your U.S. passport might be proof of both citizenship and identity. All documents are returned to you.

Social Security number activity is free and as easy as 1-2-3 at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber/.

  1. Learn what documents you need
  2. Print and complete the application
  3. Take or mail the completed application to a Social Security office

 

Register now and use SSA Business Services Online

Are you an employer?

Do you operate a business having employees?

Do you work in a human services department?

Do you handle payroll services, whether for one business or many?

Has your business registered to use the free Social Security Business Services Online (BSO) yet? 

You still have time to register, verify employee Social Security numbers online and transmit your 2013 W-2 information electronically.

As long as you register in time to meet your W-2 reporting deadlines, there is not a firm BSO registration deadline. Since this is a hectic time of year, register now and be ready.

Business Services Online include two ways to electronically file W-2s plus the Social Security number verification service (SSNVS), for online verification of employee Social Security numbers.

To use Business Services Online, you or the appropriate people from your firm must register. Registration instructions are at http://www.ssa.gov/employer/ in the Handbooks, Tutorial & Videos section. Registration is not difficult. As one of several security measures, those registering are asked for the business EIN number as well as their own name, Social Security number, and other information. A User ID and PIN is created for each person registering, not just one for the business.  

BSO provides two methods to electronically transmit W-2s. Your business can create and transmit a data file from existing payroll software or use a Social Security provided W-2 template (W-2 Online). You can print copies suitable for distribution to employees with the SSA W-2 template.

When used for new employees, the Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS) avoids having incorrect employee Social Security numbers, saving your business additional work especially if the person was only a temporary hire. With SSNVS you immediately verify the SSN of new employees. Did your business use SSNVS this year?

Have Business Services Online questions? Ask.

 

Timeline to post W-2 wages

Q: How long does it take for wages to appear on Social Security records?  My 2012 earnings were not yet on my record when I filed for benefits a few weeks ago. 

A: Employers report employee wages to Social Security only once during the year, when you receive your W-2. Posting from employer W-2 information to individual records goes on all year and usually completed by fall of the following year for records given to SSA by paper W-2. Nearly all 2012 wage records will be posted by the fall of 2013. W-2 data submitted electronically by employers using the free Social Security Business Services Online (BSO) posts faster.   

SSA representatives may request a prior year W-2 before earnings are posted so new beneficiaries receive credit for immediate past year wages. Whether or not this is done, the end result is the same because records of all beneficiaries are automatically reviewed when new earnings are posted. If the new earnings increase benefit amounts, any adjusted amount is retroactive. This applies to new beneficiairies and people receiving SSA benefits for years.

With different methods available, employers of all sizes can electronically report W-2 wage information by using the free SSA Business Services Online (BSO). Advance registration is required. Register now and transmit 2013 W-2 information electronically. Learn more at the Business & Government tab at www.socialsecurity.gov.

 

New Social Security home page

The Social Security home page, www.socialsecurity.gov, has a whole new look. One, I’ve been told, designed to present a fresh, modern look and feel, reflecting current trends and best practices in web design. Included are a new top banner and footer, an updated color scheme, and a simplified layout. 

The home page now features popular “main menus” to help you quickly and easily find information, rather than searching different areas of the homepage. For example:

-       Social Security number (SSN) card information is in the “Number & Cards” section.

-       The “Benefits” section has information about Social Security (Retirement, Survivors & Disability), Medicare and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

-       Go to “Information for…” to see topics for specific populations, including AIAN, or third party groups such as financial planners, representative payees, health and human resources professionals and others. 

-       The “Business & Government” section contains Business Services Online and other material for employers and the self-employed as well as items of Congressional interest.

-       Find much of the statistical and historical information I provide in the “Our Agency” section.

Keeping in mind the growing number of tablet users, Social Security made the new theme tablet friendly. Smartphone users will continue to enjoy the benefits of the mobile-friendly website launched in May.

Even though the home page look has changed, your bookmarked links to favorite pages have not. The website pages you use will still be just a click away. 

Experience the new home page at www.socialsecurity.gov. Please share this information and consider linking to the Social Security website from your own webpages. A partial image of the new home page follows.

Social Security Update for July is online

The July edition of the monthly Social Security Update is now online at www.socialsecurity.gov/newsletter.

Topics this month are:

  • Status Report: Social Security Benefits for Same Sex Couples (Defense of Marriage Act)
  • New Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Grant Application Process Set
  • Proof of Social Security Number (Reminder: employers can use the free SSN Verification Service (SSNVS) to verify employee SSN’s)
  • Still Need a Social Security Statement?

You can subscribe to this free newsletter at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/newsletter/.

Employer reminder – Use SSNVS for summer help

According to newspaper advertisements, summer is nearing its end.  In another month or so, people hired for summer jobs will be leaving.  

While summer help is still on the job, now is a good time to remind employers about the Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS) a useful tool included as one of the Social Security Business Services Online (BSO). 

To use Business Services Online, you or the appropriate people from your firm must register. Registration instructions are at http://www.ssa.gov/employer/ in the Handbooks, Tutorial & Videos section. With one registration, firms that handle payroll services for multiple employers can use SSNVS, and the other Social Security business services, for all clients.

The Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS) does exactly what you would expect from the name. It compares the name Social Security number (SSN) provided by employees with Social Security records and lets you know if the information verifies. If the information does not verify, have the employee contact Social Security to resolve the problem.

Doing this now, before the employee leaves, makes your W-2 wage reporting for the year much easier. Even if the employee is long gone by year’s end, you know the employee’s SSN is correct and that your wage report will be accurate without time consuming edits for an incorrect SSN. This is especially valuable in areas of high employee turnover, including the hospitality industry.

You can use the Social Security Number Verification Service two ways:  immediately verify the SSN of an employee online or complete an overnight verification for a large number of employees.

Note that failure of a SSN to match can occur for many reasons.  It does not imply that false information was intentionally provided nor does a mismatch make any statement about employee immigration status.  

Many employers ask to see the Social Security card of new employees.  Do you really need to see the card?

Employers – You still have time to use BSO for 2012

Has your business registered to use the free Social Security Business Services Online (BSO) yet?  

As long as you register in time to meet your W-2 reporting deadlines, there is not a firm BSO registration deadline. Allow time for the process as well as how hectic this time of year can be. Register now. 

Several posts during September and October, easily reachable through the Business Services Category on my Areavoices homepage, discussed available BSO services and registration.  

Services include two ways to electronically file W-2s plus the Social Security number verification service (SSNVS), for online verification of employee Social Security numbers.

To use Business Services Online, you or the appropriate people from your firm must register. Registration instructions are at http://www.ssa.gov/employer/ in the Handbooks, Tutorial & Videos section. Registration is not difficult. As one of several security measures, those registering are asked for the business EIN number as well as their own name, Social Security number, and other information. A User ID and PIN is created for each person registering, not one for the business.  

BSO is growing. Of W-2’s for 2011, approximately 185 million (85.5 percent) were online. About 31.8 million (14.5 percent) were paper. Electronic W-2 transmission reduces your business paperwork, and provides you with an additional W-2 processing month. Were your W-2s electronic or paper?

BSO provides two methods to electronically transmit W-2s. Your business can create and transmit a data file from existing payroll software or use a Social Security provided W-2 template (W-2 Online). You can print copies suitable for distribution to employees with the SSA W-2 template.

Think your business is not large enough to use Business Services Online? Think again. For 2011, the average business using the W-2 Online template sent Social Security 5 W-2s.

When used for new employees, the Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS) avoids having incorrect employee Social Security numbers, saving your business additional workloads especially if the person was only a temporary hire. In 2011, the SSNVS was used 2.9 million times, with 105.8 million SSNs checked. Did your business make use of it?

 According to the BSO welcome page, beginning December 10, 2012, BSO will begin accepting W-2s and W-3s for Tax Year 2012. 

Has your business registered yet to use the free Social Security Business Services Online. You still can. Register now. Transmit your 2012 W-2s electronically. 

Have Business Services Online questions? Ask.

Employers – you can transmit W-2 data electronically

Recent posts about the free Social Security Business Services Online (BSO) covered BSO registration and the Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS). This BSO series ends today with submitting W-2 information online.  

Firms performing payroll services for multiple employers can register once to use BSO services for all clients. 

In addition to saving your business time and money in reduced handling and paperwork, with electronic W-2 transmission you have more time to provide W-2 information to Social Security. Unlike the paper W-2 deadline at the end of February, if submitting electronically, the deadline for submission to Social Security is March 31 (or on the following workday if this date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday). Employee copies of the Form W-2 still must be given to employees by January 31 (or on the following workday if this date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday).

There are two basic ways to file W-2’s online depending on your payroll system. 

With many commercial payroll software’s, you can create a data file for transmission to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Free SSA BSO software allows an accuracy check of your data before actually uploading the wage file to Social Security.

A second method is to use a provided W-2 template to create a transmission file of up to 50 Forms W-2 at a time. You can print copies suitable for distribution to employees, and additional W-2’s can be completed as needed. No special software is required. 

There is also BSO software for online W-2c’s, if needed. 

During January 2012, the third of three Social Security webinars about Business Services Online described online filing of W-2 and W-3’s. Although some website images have since changed, the basic process remains the same. Other tutorials are in the Handbook, Tutorial & Video section at http://www.ssa.gov/employer/. You might find these useful.

Personal assistance with SSA Business Services Online is available at http://www.ssa.gov/employer/. Note the customer support link at lower right of that page. This is specifically to help with business service online topics, not individual Social Security benefit questions.