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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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USDA SNAP Retailer Reauthorization Defense Lawyers

By Spodek Law Group | September 25, 2020
(Last Updated On: October 13, 2023)

Last Updated on: 13th October 2023, 01:52 am

USDA SNAP Retailer Reauthorization – What Grocery Store Owners Need to Know

If you own a grocery store that currently accepts SNAP EBT benefits, you know how important it is to maintain your authorization to participate in the program. But did you know that SNAP retailer authorizations must be renewed every 5 years?The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) requires all authorized SNAP retailers to go through the reauthorization process periodically to make sure stores are still eligible. This may seem straightforward, but in recent years the reauthorization requirements have become much more strict and complicated. Many small business owners are denied reauthorization, cutting off a significant source of revenue.Don’t worry though – we’re here to walk you through everything you need to know about SNAP reauthorization. We’ll explain the process step-by-step, the documentation you’ll need, eligibility criteria, and what to do if your application is denied.

Overview of SNAP Reauthorization

The SNAP reauthorization application process was designed to determine if retailers still meet the criteria to accept EBT cards and benefits. Here’s a quick rundown of how it works:

  • Reauthorization Letter – FNS will mail you a letter telling you it’s time to reauthorize. This will include instructions and a code to start your application on the USDA website. You have 30 days to complete it.
  • Online Application – Reauthorizations must be submitted electronically through the USDA site. No paper applications are accepted.
  • Additional Documentation – After applying, FNS will likely request you submit things like business licenses, revenue records, and inventory documentation.
  • Evaluation – FNS reviews your application, documents, and may also do an in-person store visit.
  • Decision – You’ll receive either a reauthorization approval letter or a denial letter in the mail.

Seems easy enough, right? The problem is, FNS has been denying reauthorization applications left and right, cutting small grocers off from SNAP revenue. Applications are scrutinized much more closely now, so you need to know exactly what to expect.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for SNAP reauthorization, your store must meet one of two criteria, A or B:

Criterion A – Inventory

To meet Criterion A, you must stock sufficient varieties and depths of staple food items. Here are the requirements:

  • At least 7 varieties in each of the 4 staple food categories:
    • Meat, poultry, fish
    • Bread/cereals
    • Fruits/vegetables
    • Dairy
  • One variety in each category must be perishable (fresh, refrigerated, or frozen)
  • Each variety must have a minimum stock depth of 3 units

Criterion B – Sales

If more than 50% of your total gross sales come from heated and prepared foods not intended for at-home consumption, your store will be considered a restaurant and you will not qualify for SNAP authorization.

Step-by-Step Reauthorization Process

Here is what you can expect during the SNAP reauthorization process:

1. Receive Reauthorization Letter

  • The letter will include instructions and a code to start your application on the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) website
  • You have 30 days from the date of the letter to complete the application

2. Submit Online Application

  • Reauthorizations can ONLY be done online through the USDA site, no paper applications
  • Provide all required info about your store’s ownership, location, etc.

3. Request for Additional Documents

  • After applying, FNS will likely request you submit additional documents
  • This usually includes business licenses, tax documents, sales records, invoices, etc.
  • Submit all requested documents as soon as possible

4. Store Visit

  • FNS may do an in-person visit to your store to evaluate your inventory and operations
  • Make sure your shelves are fully stocked during this time to avoid issues

5. FNS Reviews Application

  • FNS reviews your full application, documents submitted, and store visit results
  • They evaluate your eligibility based on criteria A or B

6. Decision Letter

  • You will receive a letter from FNS stating whether your store was reauthorized or denied
  • Reauthorized – you can continue accepting SNAP benefits
  • Denied – your SNAP participation will end as of the date in the letter

Tips for Streamlining Reauthorization

Here are some tips to make sure your SNAP reauthorization goes smoothly:

  • Start early – Don’t wait until the 30 day deadline. Begin collecting documents and information as soon as you receive the letter.
  • Organize documents – Keep copies of all licenses, invoices, sales records, etc in one place for easy access.
  • Meet criteria – Take steps to meet inventory requirements before the store visit.
  • Cooperate fully – Provide all requested documents as quickly as possible. Answer any additional questions.
  • Fix issues – If FNS finds problems during the store visit, take corrective action right away.
  • Follow up – Don’t let your application get lost. Follow up regularly on the status.

Options if Your Store is Denied Reauthorization

If your SNAP reauthorization application is denied, don’t panic. Here are your options:

File an Appeal

  • You have the right to appeal the denial within 10 days
  • Your store can continue accepting SNAP benefits until the appeal decision
  • To appeal, follow the instructions in your denial letter

Reapply After 6 Months

  • If your store failed Criterion A or B, you may reapply after 6 months
  • Make sure to fix any inventory or sales issues during this time

Consult an Attorney

  • An experienced attorney can help get wrongly denied applications approved
  • They can also represent you in the appeals process if needed

Why So Many Denials Occur

In recent years, the USDA has sought to reduce the number of retailers participating in SNAP. To do this, they have:

  • Made inventory requirements stricter
  • Limited eligibility for certain store types like meat markets and seafood stores
  • Scrutinized applications much more closely for any reason to deny
  • Sent field inspectors to find minor issues during store visits
  • Required more documentation, creating more chances for error
  • Provided inconsistent information on requirements

This has resulted in many small retailers being kicked out of the program unfairly. Even a minor mistake can cause your reauthorization to be denied.Having experienced legal representation can help avoid wrongful denials. Attorneys like Todd Spodek are familiar with the reauthorization process and criteria. They can ensure your application is air-tight, or file appeals if needed.

SNAP reauthorization is mandatory for all participating retailers every 5 years. The process has become much more difficult in recent times, leading to a high rate of denials.By knowing what to expect, having all your documentation ready, and seeking legal help if needed, you can get through reauthorization with your SNAP eligibility intact. This will allow you to continue serving EBT customers and receiving significant SNAP revenue.Don’t leave it to chance – be proactive and take the right steps to get reauthorized. 

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I was searching for a law firm with some power to help me deal with a warrant in New York . After 6 days I decided to go with Spodek Law Group. It helped that This law firm is well respected by not only the top law firms in New York , but the DA , Judge as well. I...

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It was my good fortune to retain Spodek Law Group for representation for my legal needs. From the beginning, communication was prompt and thorough. Todd, Kenneth and Alex were the first people I worked with and they all made me, and my company Qumana skincare feel comfortable and confident that the team was going to work hard for me. Everything...

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