Because SSA calculates future benefit payments based on the earnings an individual has accumulated over his/her lifetime, it is critical that the Agency accurately record those earnings.
SSA’s ability to do so, however, depends, in part, on employers and employees correctly reporting names and Social Security numbers on Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. SSA uses automated edits to match employees’ names and SSNs with Agency records to ensure it properly credits earnings to the Master Earnings File. SSA places wage items that fail to match name and SSN records in its Earnings Suspense File (ESF).
For Tax Years 1937 through 2010, the ESF accumulated approximately 320 million wage items representing about $1.1 trillion in wages. In TY 2010 alone, SSA posted approximately 7.3 million wage items, representing about $70.3 billion, to the ESF.
In this audit, we sought to identify patterns of errors and irregularities in wage reporting for Tax Years 2007 through 2009.