Does SCRA cover military spouse debts?

Q: Does SSCRA cover car loans on which my soldier’s name is not listed as a bor­rower? The loan was obtained in 2007 and he deployed in 2011. What pro­tec­tion is avail­able for me as the spouse of a deployed sol­dier who is expe­ri­enc­ing hard­ship with the car loan? Thank you!


–Ms. Zarr, Atlanta, Ga.

A: No, ma’am, I’m sorry to tell you that the Ser­vice­mem­bers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) does not cover debts listed solely in the mil­i­tary spouse’s name. In order for the SCRA to help, the note would have to be in his or both of your names. There’s another impor­tant caveat: the SCRA applies only to debt incurred prior to active duty (not just prior to deployment).

Since there’s typ­i­cally some con­fu­sion about the cir­cum­stances under which the SSCRA applies, please indulge me with an exam­ple for other read­ers. For illus­tra­tion pur­poses, let’s pre­tend for a moment that this note was in your hubby’s name and he was a Reservist or Guards­man that was mobi­lized and deployed in 2011. In that case the car not would fall under SCRA as the note was obtained before his active duty call up. Of if he’s an active duty sol­dier, SCRA would also apply if the note was signed before join­ing the Army, i.e., he signed up in 2008. But if he was on active duty in 2007, bought the car and then was deployed, SCRA would not apply.

Other ideas to  han­dle the car issue include sell­ing the car to elim­i­nate the pay­ments and main­te­nance. This can be a tough choice if you owe more than it’s worth. Increase house­hold income to cover costs which may be dif­fi­cult con­sid­er­ing the cur­rent job mar­ket. Or con­sider cut­ting other expenses to bet­ter afford the pay­ments. Another alter­na­tive is to reach out to the Army Emer­gency Relief fund to see if they can help.

Good luck and thanks for keep­ing the home fires burn­ing for your soldier!

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6 responses to “Does SCRA cover military spouse debts?”

  1. AER does not cover auto pay­ments. Only auto repairs, and if it’s the only means of transportation.

  2. Does the Ser­vice mem­ber civil relief act apply for active duty member’s spouse’s credit card % rates? My hus­band is only a writer on my credit cards and yes this debt was before mil­i­tary ser­vice. We where mar­ried while the debt was made. We just pulled my hus­bands credit report, and all my credit card debts and pay­ment show as they are his debts and pay­ments. The report also states that he is an autho­rized user, but the bank said to us, that the debt is also his. Any bank or cred­i­tor will count for any credit card debt and pay­ment. So would % rates apply to my cards. I have the SCRA applied to some of my credit card accounts already and other credit account say no. So what is it?

    1. SCRA cap applies to joint accounts, but the fact that he is an autho­rized user is not the same as being a joint account owner for pur­poses of SCRA protection.

  3. Does SCRA apply for lease ter­mi­na­tion for a spouse if the active duty mem­ber co-signed? I signed a lease to see if I qual­i­fied and my hus­band (we got mar­ried a month later) had to co-sign for me. I signed a 12 month lease and informed them that I would not be able to stay the whole dura­tion of the lease because of his new duty sta­tion orders.move in date was August and I never moved in because I found other arrange­ments that where more suit­able. Now I being held liable for the whole lease. My hus­band receive orders and they were effec­tive Octo­ber 1st. of the same year so if any­thing i would have only lived there for 2 months. is there any way SCRA can assist?

    1. You need to check with the local mil­i­tary installation’s hous­ing office or legal office, they would be able to help you pretty eas­ily with this ques­tion. Some states (Florida in par­tic­u­lar) goes above and beyond SCRA as far as landlord/tenant and you can not incur any penal­ties in ter­mi­nat­ing the lease.

  4. Does SCRA apply to my spouse’s credit cards if i am the one pay­ing for them?

USAA or its affiliates do not provide tax advice. Taxpayers should seek advice based upon their own particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. The information is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining professional financial advice. Please thoroughly research and seek professional representation before acting on any information you may have found in this article. This article is in no way attempts to provide advice that relates all personal circumstances.

Examples given are hypothetical illustrations and not an indication of the benefits or features of any USAA product. You should seek policies and advice based upon your own particular circumstances. Sample loans are for illustration purposes only and are not a rate quote, pre-approval, or commitment to lend.

Scott Halliwell and JJ Montanaro are CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioners with USAA Financial Planning Services, one of the USAA family of companies. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and Certified Financial Planner™ in the United States, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.

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