Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
Benefit Fact Sheet
The Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act of 2003 (SCRA), formerly known as the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1940 (SSCRA), is a federal law that gives all military members some important rights as they enter active duty. It covers such issues as rental agreements, security deposits, prepaid rent, eviction, installment contracts, credit card interest rates, automobile leases, mortgage interest rates, mortgage foreclosure, civil judicial proceedings, and income tax payments. It also provides many important protections to military members while on active duty.
National Guardsmen on state active duty are eligible for the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act if they are serving under TITLE 32 under a call to active service by the President or the Secretary of Defense for more than 30 days. Benefits start on the date active duty orders are received, and SCRA protection generally terminates within 30 - 90 days after the date of discharge of active duty; in limited situations, a Guardsman's dependents may also be eligible. Guardsmen who are absent from duty as a result of being wounded or being granted leave are also granted protection under the act.
The Six Percent Rule : A Guardsman has the ability to reduce consumer debt and mortgage interest rates to 6% under certain circumstances. This applies only to debts and mortgages that were entered into prior to entry on active duty. In the case of mortgages, this reduction in interest extends for one year from release from active duty.
Delay of Court and Administrative Proceedings : The SCRA permits active duty Guardsmen who are unable to appear in a court or administrative proceeding due to their military duties to postpone the proceeding for a mandatory minimum of ninety days upon the Guardsman's request. This provision specifically includes Child custody hearings.
Termination of Leases : This benefit allows termination of leases by active duty Guardsmen who subsequently receive orders for a permanent change of station (PCS) or a deployment for a period of 90 days or more. Rent amounts that are unpaid for a period preceding the date of lease termination are paid on a prorated basis. The lessor may not impose an early termination charge.
Automobile Leases : This benefit allows termination of automobile leases leased for personal or business use by Guardsmen and their dependents if the Guardsman subsequently receives orders for a permanent change of station (PCS) outside the continental United States or from Alaska or Hawaii to the continental United States or a deployment for a period of 180 days or more. Lease amounts that are unpaid for the period preceding the termination date are paid on a prorated basis. The lessor may not impose an early termination charge.
Telephone Service Contracts : This benefit allows termination of a telephone contract (this includes cellular telephone services) at any time after the date a Guardsman receives military orders to relocate or deploy for a period of 90 days or more to a location that does not support the contract. A dependent may terminate a contract if the Servicemember is a beneficiary of the contract and could terminate it, if the contract were the Servicemembers.
Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent : Although the SCRA does not excuse Guardsmen from paying rent, it does afford some relief if military service makes payment difficult. Military members and their dependents (in their own right) have some protection from eviction under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA), Section 301.
Default Judgment Protection : If a default judgment is entered against a Guardsman during his or her active duty service or within 60 days thereafter, the SCRA allows the Guardsman to reopen that default judgment and set it aside if certain conditions are met.
Life Insurance Protection : The SCRA permits the Guardsman to request deferment of certain commercial life insurance premiums and other payments for the period of military service and two years thereafter.
Enforcement of Storage Liens : A Servicemember with property or effects subject to a lien, including liens for storage, repair or cleaning of property, is protected from foreclosure or enforcement of the lien during the period of military service plus three months unless a court finds that the Servicemember's ability to meet the obligation is not materially affected by military service. Sec. 307 (50 U.S.C. § 3958).
State Taxation Clarification : The SCRA provides that a nonresident Guardsman's military income and personal property are not subject to state taxation if the Guardsman is present in the state only due to military orders. The state is also prohibited from using the military pay of these nonresident Guardsmen to increase the state income tax of the Spouse.
New provisions to the SCRA (called the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act) have been added that may extend similar tax protections to some military Spouses. The extension of this protection is contingent upon meeting certain qualifying factors. Local JAG Legal Assistance attorney can help clients determine whether they meet these qualifications. To locate a Legal Assistance office, go to: https://legalassistance.law.af.mil/
Health Insurance Reinstatement : The SCRA provides for the reinstatement of any health insurance upon termination or release from service if the insurance was in effect before such service commenced and terminated during the period of military service.
Foreclosures : The SCRA requires a court order before the foreclosure of a mortgage entered into prior to active duty. This protection extends for a period of 9 months from release from active duty.
Seizure of Property : The SCRA requires a court order before a creditor can seize property secured by a purchase contract (specifically including automobiles) entered into prior to active duty.
Soldiers and Family members with SCRA questions should contact their local Legal Assistance Office:
SCRA Consumer Compliance Handbook:
Department of Justice:
U.S. Code Chapter 50: Servicemembers Civil Relief: