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SNAP Permanent Disqualification

April 21, 2020

Have you received a suspension or a permanent disqualification from taking SNAP/EBT payments at your market or grocery store? The Specialist lawyers at our firm are experts in arguing for proprietors of grocery stores who need an application denial reconsidered, or a reversal of an EBT suspension or disqualification and require the filing of a SNAP Violation Appeal. If this is you, thne the time to act is the moment a letter shows up at your place of business from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stating that your application was denied, placing your business on a suspension from receiving EBT payments, or fully disqualifying your business from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). You have only a few short days to get your EBT appeal into the court.

SNAP/EBT Appeal Cases
It isn’t every suspension, disqualification or application denial that is eligible for an appeal. Nevertheless, there are indeed a goodly number of circumstances under which an appeal is surely meritted and can be heard by the USDA Administrative Review Branch as follows:

An Application You Filed for an EBT License is Denied: If it so happens that you applied for your business to have a SNAP/ EBT retailer license and the United States Department of Agriculture, Food & Nutrition Service (FNS) returned a denial of your application, filing for an appeal of that decision is usually in your best interest. The USDA has numerous different causes for denying a license application, but occasionally they incorrectly deny an application on the basis of the past suspension of your relative, inappropriate categorization of your grocery store as an “ineligible firm”, or their perception of an absence of “business integrity and reputation”. In the event that your store’s application gets denied for any of the above excuses, then a SNAP or EBT Appeal is certainly an option you are advised to consider. Talk to us today to learn more.

You Are Issued a Suspension of Six Months or Longer: Has your grocery store been suspended or disqualified for a SNAP Violation? Is the duration of the suspension six months or longer? Please bring us in to look over the details of your matter, and do so with haste, before the suspension becomes permanent! The possible reduction of revenue that most SNAP licensed businesses suffer in the event of an EBT suspension can be utterly ruinous. An extended suspension could bring an end to your business. In such a case, you have little choice but to appeal the verdict. Touch base with us today to get more information.

You Get a Permanent Disqualification: The very worst a grocer can suffer is for the USDA to issue them a disqualification, which is, regrettably, the most over-utilized penalty that the Food and Nutrition Service resorts to in the lion’s share of the SNAP Violation letters they dispatch. Permanent disqualification basically means that you personally, as the SNAP Applicant, will be barred from owning or operating a business in any state, in which an EBT machine is in use. There is no way to reverse a permanent disqualification unless you quickly file an appeal against the decision. You should contact our offices expeditiously when you receive any letter containing allegations that you, your staff members or your business committed acts of SNAP trafficking, or otherwise face the possibility of having your store permanently disqualified.

Levying of Civil Money Penalties: Hase your store been permanently disqualified from SNAP, and were you forsced to sell your store or close your business down because of it? If so, the USDA could make things even worse for you by mailing you a letter requesting a maximum fine of $59,000 just for getting rid of your business. They leave you only ten (10) days from the day you receive a letter from them indicating that they are seeking to collect the fine from you to file an appeal to their verdict. Neglecting to appeal in a timely fashion opens you up to the very real risk that the Department will levy the fine against you and hunt you down for every penny of it.

SNAP Violation Letter: The Appeals Journey
Largely, your right to a SNAP or EBT Appeal is administered by 7 CFR §279 and 7 USC §2023. This set of laws introduces two separate appeals: an Administrative Appeal (the first one we would file) and then a Judicial Appeal (which is next after the Administrative). When you file an Administrative Appeal, you must get that into court within ten (10) days of the arrival of the letter from the USDA. If you are late with your filing, you effectively forfeit your rights. When your notice of appeal goes out to the Department, we will wait to get your case number back from the Administrative Review Division for your matter. When the case number comes back, we then pull together all of the details and paperwork that we will need and combine it all into a complete appellate brief, which can be lengthy at an impressive twenty or more pages in length, depending upon the details of your case.

Step two is to file your appellate brief with the Administrative Review Division. Upon receiving the brief there, an Administrative Review Officer examines the whole body of information that came from the Food and Nutrition Service and the paperwork from our office, and they compare those with the relevant case law and regulatory legislation that we included in our filing. They rely upon all of this to arrive at a Final Agency Determination. This final determination can take weeks, or even months, depending on the depth and breadth of the circumstances, to receive back from the FNS. Nonetheless, there are some tactics we can employ to get your appeal through more quickly and help mitigate the damage to your business. Upon completion of the Final Agency Determination, your report is returned to our office. The Food and Nutrition Service also gets a copy.

SNAP/EBT Appeal Handling
The SNAP appellate process is complex, as you can see, and the Administrative Review Division doesn’t take any mercy on and offers no leniency to business owners who are not represented by experienced attorneys. In reality, the appeals process can be rather convoluted and lengthy, especially since retailers have very few opportunities to battle evidence and reasoning that the Food and Nutrition Service lodged against them. We definitely suggest that even if you responded to your SNAP Violation Letter without the assistance of a professional, it is nonetheless your best bet to retain counsel to take care of your EBT appeal.



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