The Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) further improved protections and benefits for service men and woman under the former Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (SSCRA). The purpose behind the act is to enable servicemembers of the United States to devote their full attention to duty while not having to worry about certain civil obligations back home. Such protections for service members in turn protect national interests.
The SCRA extends relief to all Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy service members on active duty, including reservists, members of the National Guard and Air National Guard who have been activated for duty, and active-service commissioned officers of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In addition, many of the provisions extend to spouses or dependents. 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.
Some of the protections from obligations that servicemembers can be protected against under the SCRA include protections against outstanding credit card debt, mortgage payments, pending trials, taxes, and terminations of lease. In regards to outstanding credit card debt, the SCRA limits interest on credit obligations incurred prior to military service or activation to 6 percent for active duty servicemembers. Furthermore, once a servicemember is no longer on active duty, the excess interest cannot then become due as the portion above 6 percent interest is to be permanently forgiven.
As for terminations of lease, a servicemember can terminate a housing lease if the servicemember receives a permanent change of station orders or is deployed to a new location for 90 days or more. A servicemember can also terminate a vehicle lease signed prior to joining the armed forces if the servicemember is called to active duty for 180 days or more. A vehicle lease can also be terminated if a servicemember receives orders for a permanent change of duty location outside the United States or is deployed for 180 days or more. A cell phone contract can also be terminated if a servicemember relocates for at least 90 days to a location that is not supported by the current cell phone service.
Servicemembers and their families can also be protected from eviction from housing while on active duty due to nonpayment of rents if the rent amount does not exceed a certain amount that is set every year. For 2015, the amount is $3,329.84 per month or less.
It is important to note that relief under SCRA is not always automatic and in some cases relief must be affirmatively invoked. If you have any questions and need assistance invoking your rights under the SCRA, it is important that you find legal assistance.