skip navigation

Search Help
Navigation Help

Topic Index

Tax Topics

About Tax Map Website
Publication 80

3. Employee's Social Security Number (SSN)(p5)

An employee's social security number (SSN) consists of nine digits separated as follows: 000-00-0000. You must get each employee's name and SSN and enter them on the employee's wage and tax statement, Form W-2AS, W-2CM, W-2GU, or Form W-2VI. If you do not report the employee's correct name and SSN, you may owe a penalty unless you have reasonable cause. See Publication 1586, Reasonable Cause Regulations and Requirements for Missing and Incorrect Name/TINs, for information on the requirement to solicit the employee's SSN.

Employee's social security card.(p5)

You should ask the employee to show you his or her social security card. The employee may show the card if it is available. Do not accept a social security card that says "Not valid for employment." A social security number issued with this legend does not permit employment. You may, but you are not required to, photocopy the social security card if the employee provides it. If an employee does not have a social security card or needs a new one, the employee should apply for one on Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, and submit the necessary documentation. See the back cover of this publication for information on how to get and where to send the form. The employee must complete and sign Form SS-5; it cannot be filed by the employer. If your employee has applied for an SSN but has not received the card before you must file your Form W-2 reports, and you are filing your reports on paper, enter "Applied For" in box d. Enter all zeroes in the SSN block if filing electronically. When the employee receives the SSN, file Copy A of Form W-2c, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement, with SSA to show the employee's SSN.

Correctly record the employee's name and SSN.(p6)

Record the name and number of each employee as they appear on his or her social security card. If the name is not correct as shown on the card (for example, because of marriage or divorce), the employee should request a corrected card from the SSA. Continue to use the old name until the employee shows you the replacement social security card with the corrected name.
If the SSA issues the employee a replacement card after a name change, or a new card with a different social security number after a change in alien work status, file a Form W-2c to correct the name/SSN reported on the most recently filed Form W-2AS, W-2CM, W-2GU, or Form W-2VI. It is not necessary to correct other years if the previous name and SSN were used for years before the most recent Form W-2.

Verification of social security numbers.(p6)

The SSA offers employers and authorized reporting agents three methods for verifying employee SSNs. Some verification methods require registration. For more information, call 1-800-772-6270.
Registering for SSNVS and TNEV.(p6)
You must register online and receive authorization from your employer to use SSNVS or TNEV. To register, visit SSA's website at and click on the Business Services Online link. Follow the registration instructions to obtain a user Identification (ID) and password. You will need to provide the following information about yourself and your company.
When you have completed the online registration process, the SSA will mail a one-time activation code to your employer. You must enter the activation code online to use SSNVS or TNEV.