The SNAP program is one of the largest in the country, and it’s one that any people rely on to survive. This program allows families with low incomes to eat. It’s not glamorous, but it’s highly practical. Without proper nutrition, lives are changed forever. When someone is unable to make ends meet and cannot afford to feed their families, the United States Department of Agriculture allows them to apply for SNAP benefits to use at local grocery stores so they can obtain proper nutrition.
The laws regarding SNAP benefits are strict. They’re too many to list, but the laws are very strict and ignoring the law puts business owners at risk of serious consequences. The federal government regulates what can and cannot be sold to people using SNAP benefits, how much people get each month, and what they can and cannot buy with their SNAP funds. Supermarkets and grocery stores are equipped with copious information regarding the use of SNAP benefits, and they are required by law to strictly adhere to each term.
No one is legally permitted to sell their SNAP benefits for cash, and they are not permitted to purchase alcohol as well as many other items with their benefits. If a store is caught exchanging SNAP benefits for cash or selling unauthorized product, the store faces a long list of fines, penalties, and even the loss of their ability to accept SNAP benefits.
How does losing SNAP benefits affect a business?
Perhaps the idea of no longer being able to accept SNAP benefits as a method of payment sounds like a small punishment, but it’s enough to ruin a business. When people are able to use their SNAP benefits in your store, you do more business. Millions of Americans are unable to pay for their own groceries and require federal assistance putting food on the table. When this occurs, they’re going to shop only in locations capable of accepting their benefits.
If your store is no longer capable of accepting SNAP cards, you will lose business. It will likely be a lot of business, and your own business might suffer a huge financial blow as a result. It’s never beneficial to lose SNAP acceptance, which is why you must know how an attorney can help you if your business has been permanently disqualified from accepting SNAP benefits.
SNAP Charging Letters
If your business is suspected of doing anything illegal with SNAP cards, you will receive a letter. It can be something as small as allowing someone to purchase a single beer with their SNAP card. It might not even be something you realized occurred when a new employee was working or when there was so much stuff on the conveyor it simply slipped past you without notice.
Mistakes happen, accidents occur all the time, and people aren’t perfect. Your business, however, might suffer from your lack of perfection. If you are found guilty of doing anything improper with a SNAP acceptance, you’ll receive a letter. Sometimes this letter offers you a chance to pay a substantial fine rather than lose your ability to accept SNAP.
If you cannot afford the fine or you do not respond to the request to make a fine payment inside 10 days, your store loses the ability to accept SNAP payments. Sometimes this is a temporary suspension, and sometimes it’s a permanent disqualification depending on who many times you’ve been in trouble before and how severe the issue at hand is in comparison to the law.
Business owners have a chance to respond to claims they did something wrong, but the USDA doesn’t always adhere to the disputes they receive. They might rely too heavily on the evidence against the business no matter how vague or old it is. They might ignore the letter. The letter might be misplaced. There might be any number of issues with a dispute, and a business could find out their SNAP machine no longer works one day when they are checking customers out.
Disputing Permanent Disqualification
It’s far from easy to dispute a claim that evidence against your business is incorrect. It’s difficult, it’s time-consuming, and the law surrounding SNAP benefits is lengthy and difficult to comprehend. It’s best to have an attorney on your side. An attorney who has experience working with SNAP issues can help you dispute a permanent disqualification to have the permanency removed and your SNAP acceptance reinstated.
It’s even better if you hire an experienced attorney from the onset. When you receive a SNAP charging letter in the mail, call an attorney. They have the right tools, the knowledge, and the legal experience to help make sure that the paperwork you receive is accurate, that the response is handled correctly, and that you don’t get to a point where you are permanently disqualified. Even though it can be reversed with the right evidence and proper paperwork, weeks of being unable to accept payment from such a large group of customers can destroy a small business.
No business can afford to lose their SNAP acceptance. It’s too much a part of their business model, and it’s how so many people shop. When they can no longer shop at your store, they find a new store. Most people won’t bother to check back every few days to see if your store is back up and running and able to accept benefits again, either. They’ll stay where they’ve moved and you will lose business even when your benefits are reinstated.
The federal government cracks down on hard on business owners they believe are misusing or misappropriating the funds in their business. It’s not wise to ignore a letter of this nature or even handle it on your own. Call an experienced attorney to help you reverse the decision to permanently disqualify you from working with your SNAP machines. It can save your business.
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