New York Food Stamp Fraud Lawyers
Food stamp benefits are often given to families who can show that they don’t have the income needed to provide food for their household. There is an application process that involves the applicant documenting the income amount received each month, the number of people who live in the home, and if anyone in the home is in school. There are periodic reviews to determine continued eligibility. If at any time during the application or review process the recipient offers misinformation, then it’s considered food stamp fraud. There are several ways that food stamp fraud can be committed. If you have been charged, an attorney can assist with submitting evidence that shows you didn’t intend to defraud the program or that you were rightfully given benefits instead of being in the wrong.
If you are charged with food stamp fraud, there are potential consequences that could include time in jail and repayment of the benefits that you received. This is why it’s important to seek the assistance of an attorney who can examine the evidence against you as well as any documents that you have submitted to the agency to ensure that all of the facts and figures are correct.
In New York, the food stamp program is called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Almost every state accepts the benefits at grocery stores, some retail stores, and some convenience stores. While the program is often used for families with children, some single applicants and couples can also receive benefits if they are disabled or can show that they are unable to work or have not had success finding a job after becoming unemployed. It’s often easiest to get an application at a local SNAP office, complete it, and wait for a worker to talk to you about the information that is on the application. However, there is also an option of printing the application and taking it to the office or mailing it if you are unable to get out of the house. When the application is completed, you usually have to submit proof of all income as well as a lease or rental agreement. Other information that usually needs to be submitted includes proof of bills that you pay and how many people live in the home. If you are approved for food stamp benefits, you will be sent a card in the mail that acts like a debit card. Your benefits are loaded onto the card on a certain day of the month. You can then spend the amount at stores that accept the benefits.
One of the common types of fraud is when you submit information that is not true. You might include more people who live in the home than there really are in order to get more benefits. You could also report a lower income amount or fail to report assets that could lower the amount of the benefits you receive. If there are any changes in your situation, you need to let the SNAP office know. If you don’t alert the office of these changes and your benefit amount is supposed to be lower than what you receive, then it could be considered fraud. You also need to report if someone leaves the home, such as a child going away to college or a spouse leaving during a time of separation or after a divorce.
SNAP benefits are supposed to be used only for food. When you use those benefits for items other than food, it’s considered fraud. This is a way that you and the retailer can get in trouble as most retailers would need to be willing to accept the benefits for items other than food, such as toiletries, cigarettes, or alcohol. Recipients also commit fraud by exchanging their benefits for cash so that they can purchase other items for the home or even drugs.