Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), previously recognized as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act, is one of the many perks associated with military service.
Here are a few things to keep in mind so that you may make the most of SCRA protection and use it effectively.
What exactly is SCRA?
Active-duty military personnel is given protection and benefits under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Some civilian commitments will be reduced, delayed, or terminated as a result of this relief act.
In order to relieve the Armed Forces’ legal and budgetary constraints and free them up to concentrate on their military responsibilities, the SCRA was passed in 2003.
The SCRA program addresses matters such as:
- Interest rates on credit cards and mortgages
- Rental contracts
- Security remittances
- Legal actions in a civil case
- Car leases
- Life insurance
- Payment of income taxes
What are the benefits of SCRA?
The SCRA includes a number of benefits and protection. The following are the ones that are most frequently asked about or utilized in relation to the SCRA benefit program:
Lower interest rates
The SCRA caps the annual interest rate on debt accrued prior to military service at 6%. The law mandates that interest charges above 6% be waived for anyone who is in the military on active duty.
This lowered interest rate is offered to:
- Bank cards
- Loans for a home equity
- Education loans
- Automobile loans
- Loans for recreational vehicles
The Servicemember must give the creditor written notice and a copy of their military active-duty orders in order to have the interest rate decreased.
If a court finds that a person’s ability to pay the higher interest rate was not “materially impaired” by military duty, the creditor may escape having the interest rate reduced to 6%.
Service members’ defense against default judgments
This safeguard prevents the court from entering a default judgment against the defendant when a Servicemember fails to show up in court until after it has appointed a lawyer to represent the Servicemember’s interests.
If the person is gone owing to military service, a delay or stay of 90 days or longer may be permitted.
Lease termination for an apartment
When joining the armed forces, a person is granted the right to give a 30-day notice to end their housing lease. Additionally, it applies to military personnel who get orders for a PCS. PCS orders are directives to change one’s place of duty.
Additionally, if you receive orders for deployment outside of the contiguous United States for 90 days or longer, your lease on an apartment may be terminated.
Cancellation of the auto lease
In accordance with the SCRA, a person may end a lease on a car or truck if he or she is called to active duty for 180 days or longer following the lease’s signing. You may also do so if you obtain PCS or deployment orders that require you to travel outside the country for 180 days or more.
Non-judicial foreclosures are put off
If you bought a house before you joined the military, the lender cannot foreclose on the property without a court order. This safeguard is applicable to states that allow nonjudicial foreclosures, commonly known as foreclosures without a court order, to take place.
Foreclosure postponement includes “tail coverage.” indicating that the coverage continues for a full year after leaving the military.
Additional advantages and defenses provided by the SCRA
- For income tax reasons, military spouses may designate either their spouse’s Home of Record or present duty station.
- If a service member moves for at least 90 days to an area without coverage, they are free to cancel their cellphone, cable, and internet contracts.
- If a military spouse passes away while performing active service, the surviving spouse may break the lease.
- Due to an SCRA protection request, lenders are not permitted to refuse credit or alter the terms of a loan.
Eligibility and Prerequisites for SCRA
You must be serving on active duty right now in order to be eligible for SCRA benefits. Members of the National Guard and Reserve who are on active-duty orders for 30 days or more are also eligible.
No matter where you are assigned to serve, the legislation is applicable to members of the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy (even combat zones).
Numerous advantages and protections also apply to the Servicemember’s dependents or family members.
Duration of SCRA eligibility and its end
Beginning on the first day of your active-duty service commitment and ending 30 to 90 days after leaving active duty, you are eligible for SCRA benefits. The SCRA extends 180 days after leaving active duty under certain circumstances, such as tax collection or the sale of a property.
Members of the Reserve and National Guard are eligible as of the day they receive instructions for mobilization. After you receive your orders, SCRA safeguards are in effect even if you haven’t reported for service or are in an unpaid status.
Depending on the benefit or protection you’re looking for, specific documentation may be needed to apply for or use your SCRA rights. For instance, many banks demand that you fill out a form before you may ask to have your interest rate reduced.
You will require a copy of your active-duty orders, at the very least. Alternatively, a letter from your commanding officer with dates of your military service
The Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) of the Department of Defense can also be used to search for and ascertain a person’s military status. Learn more about DMDC.
Having a “material impact”
Your SCRA rights are frequently contingent upon being “materially affected” by your military service. The decision is made in light of each person’s unique situation. It’s crucial to visit your base or post-legal aid center to have qualified guidance on utilizing your SCRA privileges.
Utilizing the SCRA
Many members of the military community are protected by the SCRA, but these safeguards are not always automatic. The majority of benefits and defenses need that you take some sort of action, including applying for relief under the SCRA.
Consult legal counsel before submitting a request for relief in matters like legal procedures, insurance, or taxes to determine what to submit.
Obtaining credit and loans
In most circumstances, you must submit a request and a copy of your military orders to the company in order to qualify for an interest rate reduction under the SCRA for your credit cards and loans.
Keep in mind that only debt incurred prior to the start of military duty is eligible for the reduction.
Terminations of leases
A military person must provide written notice and a copy of their military orders in order to end a home or car lease. Depending on the firm or business, different methods might be used to end a lease. It’s better to get in touch with them to learn about their policies.
The SCRA offers a wide range of advantages and protections. You can save money as a service member if you take the time to comprehend them and figure out how to apply them to your own situation. To make sure you take full advantage of the law while serving in the military, get legal advice.