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SNAP Civil Money Penalty

By Spodek Law Group | April 21, 2020
(Last Updated On: March 11, 2023)

Last Updated on: 11th March 2023, 06:01 pm

Civil Money Penalties for SNAP Charges: What You Need to Know

The Struggle to Make Ends Meet

In today’s society, the cost of living is high, and many families struggle to make ends meet. Despite having full-time jobs or receiving disability benefits, it is all too common for families to run out of money to care for their children and put food on the table. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a government benefit program that helps alleviate the pressure of an inadequate food budget for families in lower socioeconomic strata. As the largest program of its kind, SNAP provides much-needed supplemental nutrition to children and families across the United States. However, it is not uncommon for both grocers who accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards and benefit recipients to misrepresent themselves on their applications to receive more money and benefits from the government.

Understanding SNAP Civil Money Penalties

If you are the owner of a grocery store that serves SNAP benefit customers and you receive a SNAP Civil Money Penalty letter, you must take this very seriously. The letter is a charge letter that details alleged violations and the related penalties that the proprietor of a business is being charged for performing illegal transactions and profiting illegally from their license to accept EBT payments. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sends this letter to business owners when they believe that their business has been profiting financially or benefitting in any other fashion from the improper use of EBT cards that their customers shop with in their place of business.

Responding to the Civil Money Penalty

When you receive a Civil Money Penalty letter, you are offered two options:

  • Respond to the letter inside of the 10-day window you are given to pay a cash fine and keep your store’s SNAP license.
  • Disregard the letter or respond too late and see your store get disqualified from accepting SNAP benefits.

You have just 10 days to respond to a Civil Money Penalties letter, and the USDA does not offer an option to apply for an extension. This is an unyielding protocol with no exceptions. The USDA demands your answer quickly. They want to know if you are going to remit payment in an effort to hold on to your license to take EBT benefits or not.

The Advantage of Paying a Civil Money Penalty

Some proprietors question the wisdom of paying a financial penalty for this instead of simply taking a suspension of their SNAP privileges. However, the financial consequences of having your license to accept SNAP payments suspended, even for a few months, are far more expensive for most grocery stores than the cost of a civil money penalty. Millions of dollars in purchases take place through EBT cards annually for the use of SNAP benefits. If you suddenly no longer have the ability to accept EBT cards from your customers, you will lose them. There are millions of families that are simply incapable of paying for their monthly groceries out of their working income, and the fact that you cannot take their EBT cards for food anymore means you’re not going to benefit from their frequent custom anymore.

How an Attorney Can Help

The peaks and valleys of SNAP civil money penalties are rather complicated for the average individual to understand. An experienced SNAP attorney can assist you in sorting through the mountain of documentation, filling out the application for the penalty, and comprehending the issuance of the notice you got. The attorney can also help you answer questions such as whether you have implemented SNAP compliance policies at your store, whether your staff members undergo training in your store to learn about SNAP benefits, and whether you can demonstrate with documentation or logs that your SNAP compliance policy was in effect before it was violated. Additionally, an attorney can help you determine if you, any of your workers or managers, or your store have profited personally from the abuse of SNAP benefits in any fashion.

An expert SNAP program attorney can help you by possibly getting the penalty amount reduced, helping you retain your license to accept SNAP benefits, and give you the ability to continue to operate your business and make money. Even a short term suspension could cost your business thousands of dollars, and the effects of that suspension can reach much further if your SNAP customers have all decided to shop elsewhere once they learn that you can no longer accept their EBT payments.

Why You Need an Experienced Attorney from Spodek Law Group

At Spodek Law Group, we understand that a SNAP Civil Money Penalty letter can be an overwhelming and stressful experience for any business owner. Our experienced SNAP attorneys have a deep understanding of the law and can guide you through the legal process of responding to the letter. We will work diligently to protect your business and help you retain your license to accept SNAP benefits.

As a nationwide law firm with a track record of success, we have the experience to handle the legal situation you are facing. We will use compelling language to show that we understand the gravity of your situation, and our professional approach will ensure that you are taken seriously by the USDA.

Contact Us Today

If you have received a SNAP Civil Money Penalty letter, don’t wait another day to get the legal help you need. Contact Spodek Law Group today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced SNAP attorneys. We will work tirelessly to protect your business and help you get through this challenging time.


Here is a table that shows the potential consequences of ignoring a Civil Money Penalty letter:

Consequence Description
Lose SNAP license Your store will no longer be able to accept EBT payments for SNAP benefits
Financial penalty You will be required to pay a cash fine
Suspension of SNAP privileges Your store will be suspended from accepting SNAP benefits for a period of time
Loss of customers Customers who rely on SNAP benefits may choose to shop elsewhere


In conclusion, if you are facing a SNAP Civil Money Penalty letter, it is critical that you take action immediately. At Spodek Law Group, we have the experience and knowledge to guide you through this challenging situation. Our attorneys will work tirelessly to protect your business and help you retain your license to accept SNAP benefits. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you.


USDA Food and Nutrition Service. (2022, January 10). Civil Money Penalty. Retrieved from https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/civil-money-penalty.

USDA Food and Nutrition Service. (2022, February 15). Program Data. Retrieved from https://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap.

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