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The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act of 1940— Easing the Burden of Service

August 6, 2002

The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA) of 1940 provides certain rights and privileges for men and women entering or called to active duty in the armed forces of the United States. The purpose of the SSCRA is to postpone or suspend some of the civil obligations of military personnel to allow them to give full attention to their military duties. The underlying premise is that servicemembers should not be disadvantaged either legally or financially when called to active service.1 Among the benefits granted by the SSCRA are a stay of proceedings in civil court during an individual’s period of military service, an interest rate cap of 6 percent on debts incurred before entering active duty, eviction protection, termination of preservice leases, extension of benefits to dependents, and legal residency. To invoke many of the financial protections provided by the act, the servicemember must show that he or she has been materially disadvantaged by reason of military service.2 These important protections cover members of the active duty military and reserve component soldiers (such as members of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve) serving on active duty under federal authority.