SCRA: Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Overview

A servicemember hugging his daughter

The Servicemember's Civil Relief Act (SCRA) expanded and improved the former Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act (SSCRA). The SCRA provides a wide range of protections for individuals entering, called to active duty in the military, or deployed servicemembers. It is intended to postpone or suspend certain civil obligations to enable service members to devote full attention to duty and relieve stress on the family members of those deployed servicemembers. A few examples of such obligations you may be protected against are:

  • Outstanding credit card debt
  • Mortgage payments
  • Pending trials
  • Taxes
  • Terminations of lease.

In addition the new law:

  • Expands current law that protects servicemembers and their families from eviction from housing while on active duty due to nonpayment of rents that are $1,200 per month or less.  Under the new provisions this protection would be  significantly updated to meet todayA?s higher cost of living A? covering housing leases up to $2,932.31 per month A? and then be adjusted annually to account for inflation. 
  • Provides a servicemember who receives permanent change of station orders or who is deployed to a new location for 90 days or more the right to terminate a housing lease.
  • Clarifies and restates existing law that limits to 6 percent interest on credit obligations incurred prior to military service or activation, including credit card debt, for active duty servicemembers. The SCRA unambiguously states that no interest above 6 percent can accrue for credit obligations (that were established prior to active duty or activation) while on active duty, nor can that excess interest become due once the servicemember leaves active duty A? instead that portion above 6 percent is permanently forgiven.  Furthermore, the monthly payment must be reduced by the amount of interest saved during the covered period.

    Note: This law only covers debt incurred prior to military service.

  • Updates life insurance protections provided to activated Guard and reserve members by increasing from $10,000 to $250,000 the maximum policy coverage that the federal government will protect from default for nonpayment while on active duty.
  • Prevents servicemembers from a form of double taxation that can occur when they have a spouse who works and is taxed in a state other than the state in which they maintain their permanent legal residence. SCRA will prevent states from using the income earned by a servicemember in determining the spouseA?s tax rate when they do not maintain their permanent legal residence in that state.

SCRA Eligibility

The SCRA covers all Active Duty servicemembers, Reservists and the members of the National Guard while on active duty. The protection begins on the date of entering active duty and generally terminates within 30 to 90 days after the date of discharge from active duty.

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