The Right to Financial Privacy Act protects your checking account records. Under Section 1102 of the Act, Government authorities may access the information through a court order, subpoena, legitimate law enforcement request or with your permission. However, state and federal regulations may require access to your bank account -- including recent statements, deposits and withdrawals -- to determine food stamp eligibility.
Your Department of Social Services or food stamp issuing office may request current bank statements as part of the application process. The Federal Government requires verification of citizenship, income, Social Security numbers and other qualifying information; additional verification is a state option. In addition to bank statements, agencies may contact your bank and request financial information with your consent. Joint accounts must have the authorization of all account holders. Refusing to cooperate may result in denial of benefits.
As of 2010, Federal guidelines regarding food stamps and asset limits are $2,000 per household or $3,000 for families with elderly members. States may increase or exclude food stamp asset limits. In addition to bank accounts, assets may include cash on hand, some vehicles and stocks and bonds. The limits exclude some retirement accounts, vehicles and your home. Federal guidelines exclude vehicles valued at up to $4,650 for each adult and school-age teenager. Additionally, income-producing vehicles and those used to transport disabled individuals may be exempt from asset limits.
Once approved, you must recertify at regular intervals to remain eligible. Recertification timeframes vary depending on income, household composition and state regulations. However, you must report certain changes immediately -- usually within ten days -- if the change affects food stamp eligibility. Changes may include an increase or decrease in income or assets, employment or changes to the household size. Overpayment of food stamp benefits due to failure to report changes as instructed may result in a repayment claim against the household.
Individuals, who intentionally omit income and assets, including bank accounts, may be suspended or disqualified from the program. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, violations result in a12-month suspension for the first incident, 24-months for the second and permanent disqualification for the third violation. The food stamp issuing agency informs households of impending actions within ten days of verifying the violation. Food stamp recipients may appeal a decision and request a fair hearing.
- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services: Special Assistance SA-3200 Resources
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutriiton Service: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- Federal Insurance Deposit Corporation: Financial Institutions Regulatory and Interest Rate Control Act of 1978