Navigating through the SNAP Re-authorization Process
If you are an authorized retailer, you are required to submit a SNAP re-authorization every five (5) years. This is designed to determine your continued eligibility to participate as a SNAP retailer. Without a successful re-authorization, you’ll lose your EBT sales.
Over the years, the authorization requirements for SNAP have changed. Just because your store qualified the last time, doesn’t mean it will again. To qualify, your store must meet the requirements set forth in Criterion A or B described below:
- Criterion A: Inventory. To qualify, a retailer must have at least 7 varieties of food items in each of the 4 staple food categories. One of these 7 varieties must be perishable (fresh, frozen or refrigerated). Each variety must have a minimum depth of stock of 3 stocking units. The 4 staple food categories include:
- (1) vegetables/fruits,
- (2) dairy,
- (3) breads/cereal, and
- (4) meat/poultry/fish.
- Criterion B requires a retailer to have more than 50% of their total gross retail sales are in staple foods. Items that are heated or prepared on-site (regardless of their temperature at the time of sale) do not count towards these sales. Furthermore, if your store sells too much heated food the USDA will consider the store to be a restaurant. Specifically, where more than 50% of a store’s total gross sales are in prepared foods not intended for home preparation and/or consumption, the store is considered a restaurant. This includes all foods prepared on-site or sold for carryout.
If your store satisfies either criteria, the USDA should issue you a renewed license. However, sometimes the Department issues denials based upon unclear responses from the retailer. These miscommunications come from poorly filled out forms, or inaccurate numbers.
The SNAP Re-authorization, Step-by-Step
- To begin a SNAP re-authorization, your store will receive a “re-authorization” letter. The letter contains a code for the USDA’s website, and will tell you how to start the application.
- After you submit your online application, the USDA will ask you to submit additional documentation. What documentation they request changes from store to store. Sometimes the requested documentation include: an affidavit stating that the current owners/officers/members of the store are not involved with any previously disqualified SNAP persons and reporting any criminal convictions and/or license revocations; a copy of all of the store’s current business licenses; the store’s bank information and signature card; as well as Federal personal and business tax returns.
- After the first request for documents, the USDA sometimes asks for revenue verification. The USDA’s program specialist is looking to determine if you sell too much hot/takeout food to qualify. The records they ask for include invoice records, sales records, tax filings, and bills of sale. If these records show that the majority of your food sales are heated, your application will be denied.
- Once the USDA is satisfied that your sales are satisfactory (and assuming less than 50% of your sales are eligible), they will evaluate your inventory. This is done primarily by an in-store inspection conducted by the USDA. If the survey shows your store’s inventory is inadequate, you may be given the opportunity to submit inventory records. You can provide supplier invoices and receipts from grocery purchases, or other records that show food purchases. The goal is to show your store ordered/received a sufficient amount of required staple foods within 21 days prior to the store visit.
- After the USDA evaluates your revenue and inventory, they issue a decision letter. If your store is re-authorized then the process ends. If your store is denied SNAP re-authorization, you have the right to appeal. Under some circumstances you can re-apply immediately, while others you may have to wait six months or longer. In severe cases, the Department can try to permanently deny your application.
What do you do if your authorization is withdrawn?
If the USDA decides to withdraw your license to participate in SNAP as an authorized retailer, you should take the following steps:
- Is the denial permanent? If it is, you need to appeal or you will never be able to get a license.
- Determine if the store can survive for the re-application period. If SNAP sales account for only 3% of your sales and the delay period is six months or less, you may be able to wait. If your SNAP sales account for 50% of your sales, you probably want to file an administrative review.
- Our offices handle all of the paperwork, briefing and communication with the USDA.
This may occur because, following an on-site store inspection conducted by an FNS agent, it was determined that your store failed to satisfy the stocking requirements set forth in Criterion A, or that, after a review of the documentation submitted with your application, your firm failed to satisfy the sales requirements set forth in Criterion B. If this occurs, you will be unable to reapply for SNAP authorization for a minimum of six months, which can be harmful to many businesses.
Be careful – you must file an administrative review request within 10 days from the date you receive the decision letter. Do not panic – if you contact our firm immediately at (813) 228-0658 we may be able to assist you in filing. We can represent your store in the case, and present the documents and evidence necessary to win.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q – Will my EBT machine be shut off immediately upon receipt of the withdrawal letter?
A – You may no longer accept SNAP benefits following the effective date of your store’s withdrawal. However, if you proceed with filing for an administrative review of the withdrawal, your store will be able to accept SNAP benefits pending the final agency decision.