If your application for food stamps was denied, you have several options. First, however, it is important to go over the denial guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and your state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). While the procedures in each state are similar, some states may have different steps for making an appeal.
If you decide that you want to appeal the food stamps decision, you must also understand why your application was rejected. You may need to prove that the reason for the application denial ought not to apply to you, or that the benefit amount for which you were approved was not correct. To learn more about application denials and how to handle one, continue reading below.
Common Reasons for a Denied SNAP Benefits Application
Before reviewing the food stamps appeal process, it is important to know why you were not approved for SNAP benefits. This way, you will be able to address the issue head on.
Some of the most common reasons for a denial notice include:
- Unqualified citizenship status. While you are allowed to apply for SNAP benefits as a non-citizen, you must still meet certain non-citizen requirements. For instance, some non-citizens must wait five years before filing an application. In addition, you may not have eligibility even if you have waited the five-year minimum if you have not yet worked 40 quarters in the U.S.
- Failure to have Social Security Numbers (SSNs). Every member of your household who wishes to receive benefits must have (or must apply for) an SSN. If you have applied for an SSN and meet the other SNAP qualifications, you may receive benefits, but only for a short period of time. In this case, you may complete a SNAP appeal for more benefits.
- Failure to meet income requirements. Generally, your household’s gross income must not exceed a certain limit. The limit that applies to you depends on the number of people in your household. For instance, a family of one applying for benefits before September 30, 2019 must not exceed a gross income of $1,316.
- Too many resources and forms of unearned income. Your resources and unearned income may put you over the income limit. Countable resources may include vehicles, cash on hand, money in checking and savings accounts, bonds and more. Forms of unearned income such as investments also count.
- Failure to meet work requirements. You may be denied SNAP benefits if every able-bodied adult without dependents (ABAWD) in your household does not abide by the program work requirements. ABAWDs must be employed and may not voluntarily quit their jobs or reduce their hours. If an ABAWD is not employed, he or she must accept a job opportunity if an offer is extended. Additionally, you may have your application denied if you are on strike or refuse to enroll in a work training program. Note that only certain states require training programs.
- Failure to meet student requirements. If you apply for SNAP as a student, you may be denied benefits if you are younger than 18 years of age, older than 49 years of age or you work less than 20 hours a week. Your state may have additional requirements as well. For instance, The New Jersey SNAP program only allows you to apply for benefits as a student if you are enrolled in an NJ community college.
Reasons SNAP Benefits May Be Interrupted
You may also want to go through a food stamps appeal hearing if you were receiving benefits and lost your eligibility.
If you are receiving benefits and you undergo a change in circumstances or income, you must notify your public assistance office as soon as possible. This may seem risky, as your office will use this new information to re-assess your eligibility. However, you may stop receiving benefits entirely if you do not report an important change.
Thus, failing to notify a public assistance office of a change in circumstances is a reason that some SNAP recipients stop receiving benefits.
You may also be thinking of appealing a food stamps denial if you reported a change and were told that you did in fact lose your eligibility. You benefits may be interrupted if:
- You were promoted or took on a new job, and your household’s income is now in a different category.
- Your application for citizenship was denied.
- You voluntarily quit your job or reduced your hours.
- Certain information you provided on your application was discovered as untruthful.
How are applicants or participants notified of food stamps denials?
You may want to undergo the SNAP appeal process if you do not receive a notice of your eligibility within a designated time frame. Most applications are reviewed within 30 days. During those 30 days, an interview takes place over the phone or in person. You should receive a notice of approval or denial soon after your interview.
If you qualify for a faster decision on your application, you are entitled to an approval or denial decision within seven days of submitting your application.
A SNAP denial or approval notice will usually be mailed to you. You may also receive a notice by email if you submitted an application online. The notice will detail the reasons behind your denial. If you want a longer explanation, you may be able to obtain one by calling your local public assistance office.
The Food Stamps Appeals Process
If you wish to appeal a food stamps denial, the first step is often to contact your public assistance office. If a representative from the office does not agree, you may ask to have a hearing official review your case. A fair hearing may take place in writing, in person or over the phone. Your state may have other rules regarding hearings.
During the fair hearing, you may explain to the official why you disagree with the reasons for being denied food stamps and why you deserve to be reconsidered for benefits.
If you were receiving benefits, your eligibility was denied and you decide to undergo a hearing, you may continue to receive benefits while a decision on your eligibility is being made. If a decision is made in your favor and you were not receiving continuous benefits during the appeals process, you may be awarded a certain amount for the benefits you missed.
If I get denied food stamps, can I apply again?
If you complete a SNAP appeal form, undergo the appeal process and still receive a denial notice, you may re-apply. However, you may want to wait, re-evaluate the situation and determine whether applying again is in your best interests. If your income and other circumstances have not changed, your chances of qualifying are slim to none. Thus, it may be in your favor to wait until you meet all the eligibility requirements for the program.