Special provisions have been made by the government under the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act of 2003 (SCRA). These provisions are intended to support those persons who are actively protecting the country by participating in military activities.
The purpose of the SCRA is to enable servicemembers to focus their energy on the defense of the United States and not be distracted by unrelated personal problems. Therefore, during your military service, the SCRA provides for the temporary suspension of judicial and administrative proceedings and transactions that may adversely affect you such as wage garnishments. Additionally, the SCRA allows for forbearance and reduced interest on certain financial obligations that you incurred prior to beginning your military service. Furthermore, it restricts default judgments against you and restricts the ability of landlords to evict you or your dependents. The SCRA can also help you with issues of bankruptcy.
The SCRA provides protection to:
- Active duty military members and reservists
- U.S. citizens serving in the military of United States’ allies in war or other military actions
- Inductees who have received orders but not yet reported to active duty or induction into military service
- Members of the National Guard called to active duty (starting on the date active duty orders are received) and,
- In limited situations, dependents of military members
To be protected under the SCRA, you generally need to be able to show that your military service has had a "material effect" on the legal or financial matter that is involved. You are usually protected under the SCRA until 90 days after you have been discharged from active duty or you have died while still serving on active duty.
You must request protection during your military duty or within 30 to 180 days after your military service ends, depending on the protection being requested. Usually, SCRA protections are not automatic, meaning that you must do some action for the Act to be invoked. For example, to use SCRA to obtain a reduction of your pre-active duty mortgage or credit card interest rates, you should send a written request and a copy of your mobilization orders to your lender/creditor.
If you believe you are entitled to benefits under the SCRA and you have been denied these benefits, consulting an estate attorney may be beneficial to you. An attorney will be able to determine your rights and ensure that these rights are protected under the SCRA.