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USDA SNAP Retailer Reauthorization

The SNAP License Reauthorization Procedure

Owners of grocery stores who are presently authorized as the SNAP licensees are required every five years to process a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program SNAP reauthorization. The USDA put this requirement in place to determine grocers’ continued eligibility to take EBT cards at their stores.  In the event that your re-authorization doesn’t go through, you will miss out on your SNAP sales.  If you need to continue to have the ability to do EBT transactions at your store, bring us on board to help you with your upcoming reauthorization. 

As time has gone by, the USDA has reorganized the qualifications for authorization in the SNAP program. Never should you assume that because your business previously qualified that you will receive eligibility again easily.  On the contrary, the USDA has been searching for ways to reduce the amount of authorized small business SNAP retailers.  A few of the methods the FNS has used to achieve this include putting more stringent inventory obligations and limiting access to vendors of fish and meat. On-site inspectors and field officers from the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS ) often show up unannounced at  stores looking for reasons to deny their reauthorizations.  As a result, the reauthorization procedure is quite a lot more involved than ever before. These days, to qualify for reauthorization, your place of business must measure up to the lengthy list of requirements in so called Criterion A or B:

Criterion A

A qualifying grocery store is one that keeps each of at least 7 (seven) varieties of food items in each of the 4 (four) staple food categories in stock. These 7 (seven) varieties must include at least one perishable (fresh, frozen or refrigerated) product. The minimum depth of stock of 3 stocking units is a strict requirement for each variety.  The 4 (four) staple food categories are:

  • Fruits and Vegetables,
  • Dairy (the most tedious of the categories),
  • Breads and Cereals, and
  • Meat, Poultry and Fish

Criterion B

Upwards of 50% of total gross retail sales in the store must be in staple foods for a qualifying store to meet the Criterion B standard.  Cooked foods or foods that were prepared on-site (no matter what their temperature is at the time they are sold) may not be counted in the sales.  On top of that, if more than 50% of a store’s overall gross sales are in cooked or prepared foods that are not intended for preparation and/or consumption at home, the USDA will categorize the business as a restaurant.  Food prepared on-site and sold for takeout are included.

A Complete SNAP Reauthorization Guide

As the time for reauthorization gets closer, you will receive a “re-authorization” letter at your store address. A code in the letter is provided to enable you to continue your reauthorization on the USDA’s website. The letter will give instructions on  how to begin the application process.  The USDA does not handle paper applications anymore; everything is web-based. They grant you 30 (thirty) days to complete your application.

At the time you send your completed application, the USDA will request that you submit  supporting paperwork.  Which documents they request is different for every business.  Here are some documents they customarily ask for: 

  • the store’s bank details and signature card; 
  • copies of all current business licenses; 
  • an affidavit stating that the current owners/members/officers of the business are not associated with any persons previously disqualified from SNAP and reporting any criminal convictions and/or license revocations; 
  • personal and business tax returns.

Usually, the primary documentation request from the USDA will be followed by a request for revenue verification.  The program specialist handling your application at the USDA must have evidence of whether or not you sell more hot/takeout food than qualifying inventory to deem you eligible for reauthorization.  The specialist may ask that you hand in tax returns, sales records, invoice records, and bills of sale.  If your records show that the majority of your food sales are cooked foods, your application will be denied.

If it so happens that your sales data fit the USDA criteria, their next move is to evaluate your inventory. The most common method they use to accomplish this is by conducting an inspection of your store.  If the inspection reveals that your store’s inventory misses the mark, you could be given a chance to submit your inventory records to the USDA for inspection.  Other documents that can be of use include supplier invoices, grocery receipts and records of food purchases.  These documents are good ways to show the USDA that you ordered and received sufficient amounts of the required staple foods within 21 days before the store visit.

After the USDA evaluates your revenue and inventory, they send out their decision letter.  Getting a reauthorization marks the end of the procedure.  On other hand, if you are denied SNAP reauthorization, you have the right to appeal. There are cases in which you could potentially re-apply right away, and under other circumstances you may be asked to wait six months or more.  In the worst situations, they can move to permanently reject your application.

What Are my Options if the USDA Denies My SNAP Reauthorization?

You Have the Choice to File a SNAP Retailer License Appeal

Your Decision Letter may state that the USDA has decided to withdraw your store’s license to participate in SNAP.  This letter will come as part of a pack of papers delivered by UPS. That letter, sometimes referred to as a Denial Letter, will explain the withdrawn status of your reauthorization application.  If such a letter arrives, you should:

  • Review all the documents in the package thoroughly and find out if their decision is permanent.  If it is, you consider the option of appealing.  Otherwise, you remain unlicensed indefinitely without the right to reapply.
  • If you discover that your denial is temporary, you need to see if your store can hold on over the period of time it would take to re-apply.  In businesses where SNAP sales only make up a small amount of your total sales and the timeframe is six months or less, you will probably make it.  If, on the other hand, SNAP purchases in your store comprise 50% or more of your total sales, you would be better off filing an administrative review.
  • Get all of your files together and call someone at our office to get your free consultation. Your attorney can handle all your filing, briefing and communicating with the USDA.  He or she can also walk you through your options and help you decide whether an appeal would likely be successful or not.

Getting denied can be the result of a determination by a Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) agent who carried out an onsite inspection that your store failed to measure up to the stocking requirements listed in Criterion A, or that, after your a review of your documents, you did not meet the Criterion B sales requirements.  If this is the reasoning, you will be ineligible to apply for SNAP authorization again for at least six months, which can be a huge blow to many businesses.

You have a mere 10 (ten) days from the date the decision letter arrives to put in your request for an administrative review.  No need to be alarmed – if you contact our firm right away at (813) 228-0658 we might still be able to get your filing in on time.  Our attorneys are equipped to fight your case for you and furnish all the correct documents and evidence to lock your victory.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q – Will my EBT machine get switched off the right after I get the denial letter?

A – From the date of your store’s withdrawal, you will no longer be allowed to take EBT cards.  If you should decide to file for an administrative review of the withdrawal, the USDA will permit you to receive SNAP benefit payments at your grocery store while you wait for the final agency decision.  


Q – How may I start taking SNAP benefits again if I got a permanent denial?

A – If you don’t file an appeal expediently and accurately, you may not ever get back your EBT privileges.  In some past cases, our lawyers were able to help clients in getting back EBT reauthorization after a denial, but every case is unique.  The best way to get your matter assessed by us is to complete our intake form (below) and set up your free consultation to get an idea of what could possibly be done.


Q – My store does has no point of sale system for EBT cards. Is reauthorization possible for me?

A – This was indeed possible at the time of this writing, although that may be a different matter by the time you read this. At present, the USDA is working to introduce new regulations in which stores would be required to have the computerized point-of-sale machines in operation.  Nevertheless, if you are already able to take debit card payments, your merchant services provider should be equipped to assist you with this.


Get Your Free SNAP Reauthorization Denial Consultation

SNAP retailers can get a free consultation with us on their cases involving SNAP retailer applications.  Inlight of the fact that SNAP retailer requirements have come to be so much more tedious, we believe it is in the grocer’s best interest to retain an attorney to take their matters on.  Numerous times the USDA has claimed that they never received sufficient documentation from a proprietor, or that they were not able to process an application. These claims are normally untrue, but when a SNAP retailer is unrepresented, they can easily be victimized and forced to reapply.  For your risk-free legal consultation, complete the form below.

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