SCRA Rights

You should contact your nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office to see if the SCRA applies. Dependents of servicemembers can also contact or visit local military legal assistance offices where they reside.

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So What Is the (SCRA)?

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), formerly known as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA), is a federal law that provides protections for military members as they enter active duty. It covers issues such as rental agreements, security deposits, prepaid rent, eviction, installment contracts, credit card interest rates, mortgage interest rates, mortgage foreclosure, civil judicial proceedings, automobile leases, life insurance, health insurance and income tax payments.

You should contact your nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office to see if the SCRA applies. Dependents of servicemembers can also contact or visit local military legal assistance offices where they reside. Please consult the military legal assistance office locatorfor each branch of the armed forces.

In order to have your SCRA case reviewed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), you must first seek the assistance of your military legal assistance office. If that office cannot resolve the complaint, it may choose to forward the complaint to the DOJ. The DOJ then will review the matter to determine whether DOJ action is appropriate.

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 $3,329.84 per month or less for 2015, this amount changes every year.
  • 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 – 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.
  • Allows you to terminate a cell phone contract if you relocate for at least 90 days to a location that does not support your cell phone service.
  • Allows you to terminate a vehicle lease you signed prior to joining the armed forces if you enter military service under a call to duty on orders of 180 days or more. You may also terminate a vehicle lease if you receive PCS orders to an OCONUS location or deploy OCONUS for at least 180 days.

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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What Makes The (SCRA) Great?

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), formerly known as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA), is a federal law that provides protections for military members as they enter active duty. It covers issues such as rental agreements, security deposits, prepaid rent, eviction, installment contracts, credit card interest rates, mortgage interest rates, mortgage foreclosure, civil judicial proceedings, automobile leases, life insurance, health insurance and income tax payments.

You should contact your nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office to see if the SCRA applies. Dependents of servicemembers can also contact or visit local military legal assistance offices where they reside. Please consult the military legal assistance office locatorfor each branch of the armed forces.

In order to have your SCRA case reviewed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), you must first seek the assistance of your military legal assistance office. If that office cannot resolve the complaint, it may choose to forward the complaint to the DOJ. The DOJ then will review the matter to determine whether DOJ action is appropriate.

Updated December 11, 2015

Invoking Your Protections Under SCRA

Although the SCRA is designed to protect you and your family, most of its provisions require you to take action to request relief—and to do so in a timely manner. Some protections require written notification, such as the cancellation of a housing rental agreement. Other provisions, such as requesting an SCRA-mandated 6 percent loan rate, require that you show you have been “materially affected” by reason of military service. In most cases, you will need to provide a copy of your active duty orders to gain relief under the Act.

The timeframe for requesting relief also varies: Some protections require you to take action before or during your activation, while others allow you to act within 30 to 180 days of your release from active duty.

Talk to Your Armed Forces Legal Assistance Attorney

SCRA is a complicated piece of public law. Before you seek relief, waive your rights to SCRA protections, or if you have questions about the type of relief you may be entitled to, it’s a good idea to talk to an Armed Forces Legal Assistance Attorney. Use the Armed Forces Legal Services Locator to find legal assistance near you.

Consult your legal assistance office regarding correspondence requesting relief, especially in matters involving lawsuits and court appearances, insurance, and taxes. Typically, in requesting any kind of relief, you will have to include a copy of your orders and deliver your written notification by hand, private business carrier, or return-receipt mail (preferably certified) to the appropriate party.

When SCRA Protections Apply

SCRA provisions generally take effect on the first day of active duty and remain in effect during the period of active duty—and in some instances beyond. For example, the Act allows a court to postpone a proceeding to enforce collection of a tax or sale of a property for up to 180 days after you are released from active duty.

 

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