Financial Relief for Active Military Personnel

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It is a known fact that most military service men and women who are called to active duty go through many financial hardships. As a result of the set backs, many military personnel fall behind on their rent/mortgage payments, default on their credit card payments and auto loans and may even have to file for bankruptcy. Many of our military personnel are not aware of some of the important protections available to them under the provisions of the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (SSCRA).

It is a known fact that most military service men and women who are called to active duty go through many hardships. Leaving loved ones for indefinite periods of time can put a tremendous amount of strain on their family lives, especially if they are the sole breadwinners of the family. Many reservists who get called upon would have to temporarily forfeit any extra means of income such as from a second job.

The sudden loss of income can adversely affect the overall financial health of the military personnel and their families. As a result of the set backs, many fall behind on their rent/mortgage payments, default on their credit card payments and auto loans and may even have to file for bankruptcy.

Many of our military personnel are not aware of some of the important protections available to them under the provisions of the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (SSCRA). The United States Congress enacted this Act in 1940 to safeguard our military personnel and their families from financial turmoil while serving their country. Under this Act, mortgage lenders can charge no more than 6 percent interest on mortgage loans to active duty military personnel. Some of the other protections under this Act include,

·    Termination of Leases: Under certain conditions, military personnel in active duty may be able to terminate leases without repercussions.

·    Mortgage Relief: Active military personnel and their dependents who are unable to meet current mortgage obligations are allowed temporary payment relief under this Act. The mortgage relief is evaluated on a case-to-case basis and it only applies under certain conditions.

·    Protection from Eviction: Under SSCRA, landlords are required to provide a sufficient time period (usually 3 months) for any active military personnel on duty before evicting them. Military personnel who pay more than $ 1,200 per month on rent are not covered by this Act.

·    Loan and Credit Card Interest Rates: Credit card and bank lenders are only allowed to charge 6 percent interest on credit card debt and other loans to active duty military personnel. The provision only applies for accounts that have been established prior to active duty.

·    Delay of all Civil Court Actions: Under certain conditions, military personnel are allowed to postpone civil court actions such as bankruptcy and foreclosure while in active duty.

The above protections represent only some of the provisions covered under the SSCRA. For more detailed description of the Act, please visit the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) web site at http://www.hud.gov or call toll-free 1-800-998-9999.

CreditGUARD of America is a non-profit credit counseling organization that is dedicated to helping military personnel and residents overcome financial difficulties by providing financial education and full service credit counseling services. Please visit our web site at http://www.creditguard.org or call 1-800-867-0406 for a free consultation with a certified credit counselor.

  • Congressman Wayne Gilchrist Home Page – Hot topics. April 2003. Housing Protections and Mortgage Benefits for Activated Servicemen and Servicewomen. Retrieved on January 14, 2005 from

http://gilchrest.house.gov/Topics.asp?FormMode=Call&LinkType=Section&Section=233

** Ginnie Mae Home Page – Media Center. Retrieved on January 13, 2005 from

http://www.ginniemae.gov/media/changes.asp?Section=Media

*** Housing and Urban Development Home Page – News Release. September 2001. Retrieved on January 13, 2005 from http://www.hud.gov/news/release.cfm?content=pr01-083.cfm

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Nemal Perera