While the program provides essential help for many people, failing to comply with the requirements can lead to being disqualified. Those who believe they have not committed any act that merits disqualification can appeal by way of a hearing. This is where support from one of our lawyers at Farar and Lewis LLP will make a difference.
What are the Grounds for Disqualification?
Applicants may be rejected in the initial stages of disqualified after receiving food stamps for several reasons. One of the most common has to do with providing incorrect information. For example, the applicant claims to earn a certain amount of income when in fact the annual income is higher. The individual may also claim more minor children in the home than actually live there.
Another possible reason for being disqualified has to do with choosing to omit information. While all the data provided is accurate, key elements are intentionally left out. Perhaps the individual has financial assets that would have a bearing on the amount of benefits eligible under current laws, but does not include them in the application. While the application may be initially approved, those assets are discovered at a later date. That wold mean being disqualified from the program.
People may also be disqualified due to unlawful use of the benefits. Actions such as trading the benefits for non-food items or even food that is not covered under the program, or selling the benefits to a third party as a way to generate cash are examples. Abuse of the program, by an individual or by a retailer who chooses to allow the fraud to take place, is grounds for disqualification.
The Legal Counsel and the Hearing
The Intentional Program Violation (IPV) hearing takes place if there is evidence that a misuse of cash assistance occurred. This is seen as an intentional rather than an accidental abuse of the program. Both food stamp recipients and merchants may be charged wit this type of violation.
At the hearing, a packet is presented by the prosecution. The packet lists the charges, provides the evidence collected in support of those charges, and the names of the examiners who investigated the event. Supporting documentation is also included. If there are previous IPV infractions, details about them will also be presented.
Defendants do not necessarily have to be present at the hearing. It’s possible to secure legal counsel who has a background with these types of cases to present the defense. Depending on the evidence provided, the lawyer may be able to point out that certain types of income or assets are excluded or present applications of expenses that would further support the client’s original claims for eligible income.
Legal counsel that is familiar with and up to date on current federal and state laws affecting SNAP benefits is essential if you have been disqualified. Depending on the specifics of your situation, the disqualification may be reversed and your access to the program could be restored.