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Many grocery stores accept electronic benefit transfer, or EBT. This is a payment method that allows welfare payments for the SNAP program to be made conveniently, and the SNAP program replaced food stamps several decades ago. However, there are special rules established by the USDA that your store must follow in order to comply with SNAP program guidelines. SNAP violations can have damaging consequences for your store. For example, if you do not respond to a SNAP violation notice within ten days, you will no longer be able to accept this form of EBT payments.
Learning About the SNAP Program
The SNAP program is available nationwide, but only approved stores can accept is form of payment. More than that, only those individuals qualify for the program can use the EBT cards for the SNAP program. The cards can only be used in stores located in the same state where the cardholder lives. The SNAP program is regulated by the USDA FNS agency. This is the agency that you may have received a violation letter from.
Understanding Possible SNAP Program Violations
There are a wide range of rules that must be followed by your staff members and store in order to remain in compliance with this program. Your violation letter may have specifically stated the rules that you or your staff members violated. These include accepting SNAP payments for tobacco, alcohol or other items that are not acceptable under the rules of the program. They also include falsifying information on the SNAP program or EBT application, redeeming more SNAP benefits than your food sales for the specific time period and accepting SNAP benefit payments from an individual who is not qualified under the program. If your store or your staff members violate any of these rules, the USDA will begin the process of removing your store from the program. The first step in this process is the violation letter that you may have received.
Exploring the Impact of SNAP Violations
The most significant impact associated with a SNAP violation is the possibility that your store will no longer be able to accept this form of payment. In many cases, stores that have legitimate violations often were confused about the rules. In some cases, an unethical employee intentionally violated the rules. However, such defenses are not effective. The USDA FNS will review any compliance policies that your store has established. Remember that the penalties associated with a SNAP violation could be very expensive. Building a substantial defense is important if you want to continue to accept payments and avoid expensive fines.
Seeking Legal Assistance
You should be aware that you only have a limited amount of time to respond to a violation letter. The first letter must be responded to within ten days. If you fail to respond to the first letter, a second letter will be sent to you. This second letter will explain the verdict about the allegations against your company and the possible revocation of your ability to accept SNAP program EBT payments. When you seek legal assistance for your SNAP violation letter within a timely manner, an appropriate letter will be drafted in response to the violation letter. Supporting documentation will also be provided with the letter. This information is necessary if you want the USDA FNS to take your view of the matter into consideration when deciding a verdict on the matter. Keep in mind that the matter could escalate to an Administrative Review. Legal assistance will be needed to prepare a defense that takes into account case law and other factors.
As you can see, a SNAP violation is a potentially serious matter that requires prompt attention. More than that, if you have received a violation letter, you must address the matter quickly with a strong, well-defined defense. Hiring a SNAP violation lawyer who has considerable experience in this area of the law is important. Time is a critical factor when dealing with this matter, so contact a SNAP violation lawyer today.
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