If you have received a letter from the United States Department of Agriculture regarding your participation in SNAP, you may think it will only contain good news. However, these letters usually bring anything but good news to their recipients. In most cases, a USDA letter means your EBT Retailer application has been denied, your store is facing a suspension of at least six months from accepting EBT benefits, or the USDA is planning to permanently disqualify you from owning or operating a store that accepts EBT benefits. While this may sound impossible to overturn, the fact is mistakes are often made in these situations. To make sure you have the legal representation necessary to win your case, turn to a SNAP appeal attorney who understands how to get these decisions reversed.
Denying a Retailer Application
In many situations, the USDA will decide to deny a retailer’s application to participate in SNAP and have an EBT machine in their store. As to why these applications are denied, the reasons can vary. In many situations, the USDA denies an application based on the prior suspension of one of your family members, determines your business lacks what it calls “business integrity and reputation,” or mistakenly places your business in the category of an “ineligible firm.” While these mistakes can be remedied by the USDA, the agency is not known for its willingness to admit its mistakes and make the necessary changes. Because of this, an appeal of the decision against you is extremely important, which is why you should never hesitate to contact a SNAP appeal attorney who specializes in getting decisions reversed for their clients.
A Short Time to Appeal
Once you receive your USDA letter regarding a decision made against you, you will only have a very short time in which to start the appeals process. In fact, you may only have as little as 10 days in which to contact your SNAP appeal attorney and get an appeal filed for an Administrative Review. Since you of course need as much evidence as possible to support your case, you should speak to your attorney immediately to make sure no details are overlooked.
Should you be the victim of a six-month suspension by the USDA, you should be aware that if you fail to properly appeal your suspension, it could turn into a permanent disqualification. Since the loss of revenue for your business during the suspension will severely impact your financial future, letting this suspension become fixed could put you out of business altogether. Once a suspension is placed against your business, you have little choice but to appeal the decision. However, be aware that the USDA fights hard against getting any of its decisions reversed, especially those pertaining to suspensions or disqualifications. Therefore, plan for a hard fight to get the results you seek by hiring an attorney who is not afraid to take the fight directly to the USDA from the very beginning.
Permanent DQ–The Most Severe Punishment
While a permanent disqualification from SNAP is the most severe punishment handed down by the USDA, it is also the punishment that is used far more than necessary in most situations. Nevertheless, always take this form of punishment very seriously, since the USDA has no intention of negotiating with you on this matter. Thus, any DQ placed on your business cannot be withdrawn unless you make a formal legal appeal to do so by working with an experienced SNAP appeal attorney.
What About Financial Penalties?
If you want another reason to get your disqualification reversed, you should carefully consider the financial penalties that may accompany your disqualification. Usually levied against businesses that have been found guilty of SNAP trafficking, these financial penalties could still be in place decades after your permanent disqualification. Known as the Transfer Civil Money Penalty, or TCMP, you may be facing a fine of as much as $59,000 should you choose to sell or close your business. In addition, there is no timeframe for enacting this penalty, meaning you could get a bill from the federal government many years after the original incident. Once you receive your USDA letter stating the agency is imposing this fine on you, start the appeals process at once. Otherwise, the fine will be imposed on you, and very aggressive collection tactics will follow to ensure you pay the government what it is owed.
Don’t Handle Your Appeal Alone
Should you decide to take on the USDA without an experienced and knowledgeable SNAP appeal attorney by your side each step of the way, all you will accomplish is making the government’s job in court much easier. Unlike standard court cases, these appeals are often more difficult due to the limits placed on defendants to rebut the government’s arguments and evidence. Thus, even if you chose to answer the USDA Charge Letter on your own, chances are you were not able to fully explain your situation in great detail. To give yourself the best possible chance of seeing your disqualification reversed, you should contact a SNAP appeal attorney quickly to discuss your case in much more detail.
A Long, Complex Process
Finally, the appeals process in these situations is quite long, and can last for weeks or even months depending on the complexities associated with your permanent disqualification. While it will be very frustrating for you while you await a decision from the USDA, this does not mean the results will not ultimately be in your favor. Therefore, don’t let your emotions get the best of you along the way. Rather, listen to your SNAP appeal attorney and make the best of a bad situation while your case plays out in court.
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