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Spodek Law Group

Over 50 Years Of Combined Experience

The Spodek Law Group is a nationwide law practice that handles virtually every type of federal case. We have a nationwide presence, and experience handling all types of federal cases, ranging from appeals, to employment law, criminal defense, and more. We’re not your average law firm – we are a second generation law firm, that is now led by attorney Todd Spodek – a reputable, and celebrity criminal defense lawyer. Our focus is helping our clients move forward with their lives and get the legal solution they need.

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Having Your SNAP Permanent Disqualification Reversed - Buffalo Criminal Lawyers

Among the most prominent public programs in the United States is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The goal of the program is to assist low income families with additional financial support so they can nourish themselves and their children. Millions of families in all regions of the United States depend on this benefit to survive. If people lack access to proper nutrition, the negative impact on their lives can be far reaching. It is by no means a luxurious situation by any stretch of the imagination.  Rather, it is a practical solution for the households who need it. If the head of household finds it impossible to meet all the family’s food requirements every month and too frequently has to compromise on the family food budget, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers them an opportunity to apply for SNAP benefits to be used at their local supermarkets  and grocery stores to get additional food that their family may desperately need.


USDA SNAP legislation is strict and unyielding. The individual precepts are way too numerous to list in this writing, but they are definitely severe and if you neglect any one of them as the proprietor of a licensed business, you put your store at risk of heavy penalties. What products that may and may not be bought using EBT cards, the benefit amount families receive monthly, and what products can and cannot be sold to people using EBT to pay for their groceries is all controlled by the federal government . Their responsibility is to make certain that the proprietors of supermarkets and grocery stores have access to the entire body of information about the SNAP program’s requirements, and they are obligated by law to strictly obey every precept.


If a store is caught selling unauthorized items, such as alcohol, or exchanging SNAP benefits for cash, the owner of the business could get punished with a long list of penalties, fines, and even possibly the loss of their license to receive SNAP payments at their store. 


What’s the big deal if they revoke my SNAP privileges?


To you, the thought of losing your license to accept EBT cards as a payment method may initially come across as a small issue, but for the majority of grocers, that loss can be enough to shut down their shop. When shoppers know they can come shop in your store with their EBT funds, your income goes up. The adults and children who have difficulty affording the food they need every month number in the millions, and they request  help from the government to put food on their tables. Recipients of SNAP benefits tend to give priority in their shopping to businesses that are able to accept their card.


If one day, your store can no longer accept SNAP cards, you can wave goodbye to all that business. Indeed, this could account for a large amount of your revenue, and your sales receipts will likely take a big hit as a result. Having to give up SNAP at your store is never a positive thing for a grocer to endure, which is why it is extremely important that you understand why an attorney who specializes in this area of the law can be a significant help to you if your business was ever penalized with a permanently disqualified from the SNAP program.


If a SNAP Charge Letter Shows Up


Should officials at the USDA  suspect you or any of your employees of dealing in any illegal activity connected to EBT cards at your grocery store, a letter will show up at your door. It could be an infraction as minor as selling a customer one single beer that they paid for with their SNAP card. An infraction of this sort might not even register when, for example, you have a new cashier and they were the one working at the time or in situations when there were so many things on the belt that the item just slipped by you unnoticed.


Such mishaps happen frequently, and no one is perfect. Nonetheless, you and your grocery store could suffer needlessly from such mishaps, even the ones that were honest mistakes. In the event that you are found to be guilty of any illegal activities connected to your SNAP license, you’ll receive a charge letter in the mail. Sometimes in the charge letter, you may be offered an opportunity to  pay a fine instead of having your privilege to accept SNAP benefits taken away.  The fine could be a significant dollar amount, but it is generally still a lot less money than the amount of money you stand to lose if your loyal SNAP customers are forced to shop elsewhere.


If you are financially incapable of paying the fine or you simply overlook replying to the letter and it’s mandate of a fine payment within the 10 (ten) days they give you, then your store’s license  to accept SNAP benefits will be revoked. In some scenarios, it’s a temporary suspension, but in others, the disqualification is permanent.  The frequency of past occurrences prior to this one and how serious the issue at hand is in relation to the laws makes a difference in the final determination.


Store owners are afforded the opportunity to reply to the USDA with regards to their claims if something went wrong at their store, but interestingly, the USDA usually does not favor the grocery store in the disputes they field. They weigh the evidence against the store irrespective of how unclear or outdated it is far too heavily. Oftentimes, they will go so far as to disregard or misplace your letter. A great many issues can come up in respect to your dispute, and a retailer could find that their SNAP machine suddenly stpos working one day in the midst of transacting business with their customers.


Disputing a Permanent Disqualification


 Indeed, it is possible to have the  permanency of your disqualification removed and your SNAP acceptance restored.  Filing a dispute against a claim is an extremely complex process, even in situations where the evidence against you is questionable at best. It’s tedious, the process is complicated, and the mountain of legislation covering SNAP violations is a legal minefield that can be close to impossible for the average person to figure out on their own. The best practice is to hire an attorney to take care of it on your behalf. If your attorney can say they have years of experience in SNAP cases, then they can be a great asset in your dispute against a permanent disqualification. 

Even wiser is to retain an experienced attorney right from the very beginning. The day your SNAP charge letter arrives in the mail, contact a law firm to set up a consultation. Lawyers come ready with the most efficient tools, the know-how, and the legal insight to work well for you.  Their job is to ensure that the paperwork you receive is accurate, that your reply to the USDA is done correctly and completely, and that you never find yourself at a point where you are stuck with permanent disqualification. Even if you face the strong possibility of scoring a reversal with all the correct documentation to prove your case and all the necessary paperwork, the weeks that go by with your store being unable to accept payments from such a big portion of your regular customer base can be ruinous for a small store.


No business owner who can accept EBT cards can afford to suddenly have their license revoked. For the majority of grocers, it is way too important to their business success because it’s how a large proportion of their clients pay for their purchases. When a SNAP recipient comes to the realization that they no longer use their card at your store, they will be forced to find another store to shop at. The sad thing is that even though you would like them to be so loyal, they are not going to come and see you every few days to check if the situation has changed and you are able to take their EBT cards again. On the contrary, they will become comfortable shopping at their new store and retrieving that business is nearly impossible even when you do get the privilege back.


The USDA comes down with furiously on business owners whom they believe to be misusing or misappropriating SNAP funds in their stores. If you were to ignore a letter alleging such activities or even attempt to deal with it without the help of someone knowledgeable, that would be a foolish decision. Call in an experienced attorney who can assist you in overturning the decision to permanently disqualify you from taking SNAP benefits in your store. It can literally mean the survival of your store.

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