You’ve worked hard to build your business. By accepting SNAP benefits, you’ve agreed to step up and help those in your community who rely on these government benefits.

When the USDA asked you to follow the rules when accepting the benefits at your retail locations, you agreed. Now, a charge letter has arrived accusing your business of “trafficking,” and the Federal government is seeking permanent disqualification, even for your first supposed offense.

If your business received a letter threatening SNAP disqualification, you should take it seriously and consult an experienced SNAP violation lawyer.

Charge Letters for SNAP Trafficking

Under 7 CFR § 271.2, the Federal law that governs SNAP, “Trafficking” means the buying or selling of anything other than authorized food or trading/selling/buying benefits for cash. This includes alcohol and tobacco purchases using SNAP. But sometimes, your customers can cause you problems by misusing their benefits and leaving you with the burden of explaining why.

Responding to USDA Charge Letters

If you’ve received a charge letter from the USDA, you have only ten days to respond. The USDA can permanently disqualify your retail or wholesale food store from being able to accept SNAP benefits—even for a first offense.

This loss of income could be devastating to your business and your livelihood.

Why Was Your Business Accused?

Much of the USDA’s evidence is obtained by receiving inconsistent redemption data and what they may find on a transaction report under an electronic benefits transfer system.

Often there are innocent explanations for conduct the USDA calls “trafficking.”

  • Did customers use their SNAP benefits more than once a day?
  • Were there exceptionally large purchases on a given day?
  • Did an employee make a mistake?
  • Did an authorized food item get miscoded?

Can You Pay a Fine Instead?

There are alternatives to losing your SNAP benefit eligibility. For example, if you have received a charge letter, you have the option of requesting (in writing) a civil monetary penalty in lieu of permanent disqualification. In other words, you may be able to pay a fine for the violation. This alternative must be requested in writing and within ten days.

Get Legal Help & Respond to the USDA

The future of your business is too important to risk by interpreting the complicated legal system. Call an experienced attorney at Fienman Defense today. We will work on your behalf to file a written response to the charge letter. The USDA will then respond to that legal communication with their decision to suspend or disqualify your company from the program.

If that response is not satisfactory, we will next file an administrative appeal and inform the USDA’s Administrative Review Agency that we intend to appeal that decision. If you are still unsuccessful, the fight is not over. Our next step is Judicial Appeal. We will represent your company in U. S. District Court and ask a federal judge to rule on your case.

Contact Fienman Defense

Don’t risk this on your own. Your business is retail and ours is the law. We will collect evidence, file motions, gather discovery, and file all the paperwork in your case while you continue to run your business. We have represented dozens of businesses just like yours and we have the experience to do it again for you.

If your eligibility to accept SNAP benefits at your business is in jeopardy, contact Fienman Defense for a free consultation. Call(215) 839-9529 or contact us online.

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