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Servicemembers Civil Relief Act


The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), signed into law by President George W. Bush in December 2003 and an overhaul of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA) of 1940, continues its legacy of protecting America's servicemen and women once they return from a hostile environment. In particular, the SCRA (as opposed to the SSCRA) is devoted to safeguarding members of the U.S. Armed Forces' houses while they are away and after they come back.

One such area for which the Act is pretty explicit is that of leased and rented property. With homes leased prior to service, servicemembers may be given either latitude to terminate their agreements with landlords or to be spared eviction within reason. Servicemembers may also be afforded clemency with regard to foreclosure of their homes and mortgage payments, especially in the wake of some unforeseen handicap. Under the SCRA, lenders and landlords who violate these precepts may actually face jail time for their wrongdoings.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act also touches upon the availability of insurance to the servicemen and women after the fact. Title IV of the SCRA, for instance, deals completely with the subject of life insurance and ensures that insurers may not decrease the levels of coverage relative to pre-service amounts, and that those who have served are entitled to as much as $250,000 worth of coverage on a specific life insurance policy. Health insurance benefits, too, are referred to by the Act and may be reinstated in the event of termination as per the language of the law.

Servicemen and women may additionally enjoy the relief offered to them by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act with respect to taxes. For taxes that went unpaid as a result of military service, debtors may appeal for a stay on collection acts, including sale of property to offset monies not yet received, as well as reinstatement of property rights in the event of a wrongful sale. Plus, the delay of income tax filings may be put off by up to 6 months, and thus, not indefinitely. In all cases, there are limits to what the SCRA can do for American soldiers.

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