The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides financial assistance to people with low incomes. Individuals and families must meet eligibility requirements and go through a complicated process to file. So, SNAP officials actively look for people who try to commit fraud by falsifying their income or citizenship documents. People who are accused of fraud will lose their SNAP benefits and suffer from other legal consequences. A lawyer is needed to explain the effects of a SNAP disqualification and fight a charge in court.
Reasons for Disqualification
Anyone who receives SNAP benefits must meet the eligibility requirements. This includes meeting an income requirement that is at or below 130% of the federal poverty level. An additional requirement is for people within the ages of 16 and 59 to seek or maintain work. Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents are limited to 3 months of coverage for benefits within a three year period. Non compliance results in an automatic disqualification that lasts from three months to one year.
Recipients who no longer qualify for benefits or break the program rules are disqualified and do not receive benefits for a certain period of time. This period varies from one year to permanently. The recipients may face penalties that include reimbursing the system for money obtained through fraud.
The Types of Disqualification
An intentional program violation (IPV) occurs when the SNAP recipient commits fraud and deception. The penalty for the first offense lasts for one year. The penalty for the second offense is two years. The third offense results in a disqualification that lasts permanently. Falsifying one’s identity or statement to apply for multiple benefits will result in a 10 year disqualification. In every case, an investigator is hired to research the case and outline the reasons in a report.
Banning of Retail Stores
In addition to individuals, retail stores are disqualified for not following SNAP rules. Retailers cannot bend the rules for specific SNAP recipients by charging banned foods on food stamps. If violation is proven, the retail store is disqualified from SNAP and loses income. SNAP could file a civil lawsuit and require the retailer to repay the money that was earned fraudulently.
Not having the financial support to buy basic household items is a burden for many low-income households. Waiting another year to receive benefits is unacceptable if you did not deserve a disqualification. The lawyers at the Farar & Lewis office will protect the rights of individuals and retailers that are involved in SNAP disqualifications.