Serving the nation through military service is an honor and responsibility. That’s why there are laws in place to protect the welfare of service members. Among the most significant laws that protect military personnel’s legal and financial affairs is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is a federal law that provides legal and financial protections to service members so they can devote their focus to protecting the nation. From caps on interest rates to permission to break lease agreements without penalties, the SCRA gives active-duty service members significant perks that can make their lives easier.
One of the primary conditions of eligibility for the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is active duty status. So, do SCRA protections extend to veterans, particularly ones with disability status? This article will answer this question and more.
- 1 What is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)?
- 2 Who Is Eligible for SCRA Benefits?
- 3 Are Disabled Veterans Eligible For SCRA Benefits?
- 4 SCRA Benefits for Disabled Veterans
- 5 How to Apply for SCRA Benefits
- 6 Additional Resources and Support for Disabled Veterans
- 7 Conclusion
- 8 FAQs
What is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)?
Formerly known as the Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Civil Relief Act of 1940, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003 is a federal law that primarily aims to ease the legal and financial obligations of active duty service members and their families.
The law covers people on active duty military service, particularly all Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy service members. SCRA protections also extend to National Guard and Reserve component members called to active duty service and active-duty commissioned officers of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Select provisions of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act also extend to the spouses and dependents of service members on active service.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act offers several provisions that can improve the lives of service members. However, SCRA protections aren’t always automatic. Certain conditions must be met for service members to be eligible for SCRA benefits, particularly active duty status. The duration wherein SCRA protections apply depends on when the service member was called into active duty military service.
Who Is Eligible for SCRA Benefits?
The following people are eligible for SCRA benefits:
- Active duty military members of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard
- Reserve component members on active duty
- National Guard component members mobilized under federal orders for at least 30 consecutive days
- Active duty commissioned officers of the Public Health Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Select provisions of the SCRA apply to military spouses and dependents. SCRA rights may be invoked if someone holds a valid power of attorney for the servicemember. Veterans, including disabled veterans, called to active duty service may request SCRA protections.
How does one determine SCRA eligibility? The key to requesting SCRA protections is active duty status. Not all service members and veterans are protected by the SCRA. Only active duty service members are allowed to invoke the protections of this federal law.
Are Disabled Veterans Eligible For SCRA Benefits?
Generally speaking, retired military personnel or veterans are ineligible for SCRA protections. However, veterans, including disabled veterans, may request SCRA relief if they can provide evidence that they are on active duty service. As long as veterans can provide evidence that they are called to serve the nation actively, they may request SCRA protections.
SCRA Benefits for Disabled Veterans
What if the disabled veteran was called into active duty service? In that case, they are granted several financial and legal protections that make focusing on their military duties easier. To clarify, disabled veterans have no special benefits under the SCRA. They’re not entitled to unique perks that other service members covered by the SCRA are given. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers various benefits that make the lives of disabled veterans much easier.
But what benefits can they possibly get if they are qualified for SCRA protections? Some of the most common SCRA provisions invoked include the following:
- Automobile lease cancellation. Service members can terminate an automobile lease provided they are called to active duty for 180 days or more after signing it.
- Credit rating protection. Lenders such as financial institutions cannot revoke or deny credit, change existing loan terms, or refuse to grant credit because of SCRA protections.
- Eviction protection. A landlord isn’t allowed to evict a service member or their dependents without a court order while the service member is serving on active duty. Moreover, the service member may request that the court delay executing a court order for eviction for 90 days.
- Foreclosure and forced sales relief. Real estate or vehicles cannot be foreclosed or repossessed without a court order.
- Judicial relief. Suppose active military duty service prevents military personnel from attending a scheduled court appearance. In that case, the SCRA permits that person to request the postponement of civil court and civil administrative proceedings for at least 90 days. This benefit does not extend to criminal proceedings.Furthermore, the SCRA stipulates that if a court enters a default judgment against a service member because they failed to appear in court, they can request the matter be re-opened and the default judgment be set aside.
- Property lease termination. Provided the service member has deployment orders for a permanent change of station, they can terminate any property lease agreement without penalties. This SCRA protection applies to lease agreements signed before one’s active duty assignment.
- Six percent limit on interest rates. Military personnel can request reduced interest rates to six percent on any automobile, home, incurred credit card, or student loan debt obtained before entering active duty service. This benefit also applies to military spouses.
- State tax relief. If a service member is ordered to move to a different state because of deployment orders, they can choose their ‘domicile’ or state of legal residence for tax purposes.
How to Apply for SCRA Benefits
Unfortunately, no universal document or certification provides evidence for service members to invoke their SCRA rights. If a person is called to active duty service and would like to apply for SCRA benefits, they need to follow the following steps:
- Determine active duty status. A person’s active duty status is vital for Servicemembers Civil Relief Act eligibility. The person requesting SCRA protections must present their deployment orders or a letter from their military superior to prove they’re qualified for SCRA benefits. The letter should include active duty duration because time is essential in SCRA protections. These documents can be requested from one’s military station or office.
- Submit a written request. The person requesting SCRA protections should submit a written request stipulating which protection they want to invoke. Requests for SCRA benefits must be submitted in written format. Verbal notice doesn’t suffice. Many people aren’t well-versed in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. That’s why there needs to be a letter that explains the active duty service member’s rights.
Additional Resources and Support for Disabled Veterans
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act can greatly help qualified service members, including disabled veterans. Eligible personnel should educate themselves on SCRA benefits and other rights. The Department of Justice has a dedicated web page for educating service members and veterans on their rights, which includes the SCRA.
Another essential resource for disabled veterans is the Department of Veterans Affairs website. This website is a comprehensive guide for veterans benefits, which disabled veterans can learn from tremendously. If a disabled veteran would like to invoke SCRA rights, seeking legal counsel from SCRA experts would be ideal.
A disabled veteran eligible for SCRA benefits can improve their quality of life by seeking SCRA protections. That’s why disabled veterans need to understand which privileges they may qualify for, including the SCRA. The most crucial part of SCRA eligibility is active duty status. With Military Verification, anyone can check if a person is on active duty. Explore our website to learn more.
Who is eligible for SCRA?
Active duty service members are eligible for SCRA protections. Select provisions cover their spouses and dependents.
Can veterans get SCRA?
Yes, but only if that veteran is called for active duty. People requesting SCRA protections must prove they’re called to serve the nation.
What is the difference between MLA and SCRA?
The SCRA provides protections to people who are already part of the military. Meanwhile, the Military Lending Act or MLA expands the scope of financial products covered by federal law.
Who is not eligible for SCRA benefits?
People not on active duty status are not eligible for SCRA benefits. To invoke one’s SCRA rights, one must present evidence that one is called to serve the country.