Hundreds of thousands of low income families apply for SNAP food stamps each year. When their application has been denied or if they are not provided as much money as they think they should get, there is an appeal process in place. People of all backgrounds, races, religions, disabilities, and ages have rights available to them if a denial has been issued when applying for food stamps.
Provided the application is completed honestly and accurately, either an approval or denial notice will be issued to the person within 7 to 30 days. This will depend on whether someone is applying for emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food stamps or not. If there is a crisis, then a decision needs to be made in no more than 7 days. If the applicant does not hear back within that time-frame, they can follow the appeal process below.
The first thing someone should do is to call the place they applied at. This will normally be a local social services or DHS office. If the applicant applied at some other government organization (no matter the name of it) or even non-profit that should always be the first place to contact.
It may be that the SNAP food stamp application was denied in error. Maybe their was an administrative issue such as missing documentation. Or maybe there was incomplete information. In any case, a number of denials can be quickly resolved or even reversed by just contacting the office at which the application was submitted to.
Another reason to contest the status of a food stamp application is due to the dollar amount of assistance provided to the family. If the households thinks they should get more money each month on their EBT card then they can appeal the decision. The process is the same as if a denial was given, so all the steps listed here should be followed for a dollar discrepancy. So it is possible to appeal the dollar amount of SNAP approved on an EBT card.
As noted above, the first thing to do is to always contact the social service office to which the application was submitted. Hopefully the issue will be resolved at that point. If the local office still declines the application or amount being paid, then additional steps can be implemented by the person. They are as follows.
The family should have their application assessed by a fair hearing official. This person who is in charge of this process will be well versed in all of the USDA food stamp rules and guidelines. The location of these centers that hold the hearings will vary by county and state, but the fair hearing process is mandated by the federal government Department of Agriculture. All families are entitled to this form of appeal.
The appeal of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) denial can be done in one of many ways. Fair Hearings can be done in person at a local office. Or if that is not convenient, then it can be done over the phone or even in writing. That can be helpful to a disabled person or senior who needs assistance in addressing a denial of SNAP.
Experts will often recommend to do this appeal in person if and when possible. It can often be harder to still deny an application when speaking to someone fact to face. The in person approach also allows any additional questions to be answered right on the spot, thereby expediting the process.
Each state also uses federal government money to provide free legal services to senior citizens and very low income families. One of the services provided as part of this will be legal help in applying for SNAP food stamps. The lawyer can help with the initial application as part of this program. Or if the family is faced with a denial of their food stamp application, an attorney can join them at the Fair Hearing. All of these services are provided to the resident at no cost to them.
It can obviously be helpful to use a lawyer during this process when possible as they can not only ensure all rules are adhered too, but they protect their client's rights when it comes to accessing food stamp benefits. A state official may take the applicant more seriously when they have an attorney at their site. Find a listing of legal assistance programs.
Note that while all of these appeals are going on, the family can still be entitled to receive some form of monthly food stamp benefit for their family. So they can still feed their kids or household members throughout this multi-step process. But the risk here is that if after the Fair Hearing takes place, if the application is still denied, the state may require the family to pay them back. So the client will need to come up with the cash to reimburse the state for the total value of the food stamps on the EBT card that they used.
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