Summary: H.R.4763 — 102nd Congress (1991-1992)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.4763. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (04/03/1992)

Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act - Amends the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1940 to rename such Act as the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act and to revise provisions with respect to certain protections and rights afforded to servicemembers while on active-duty assignment. Defines "servicemember" for purposes of eligibility for such protections and rights, as members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, while on active service, and the reserves and National Guard while on active service. Defines the term "dependent" for purposes of collateral eligibility for protections under this Act. Defines the term "material effect" with respect to the effect of a servicemember's military service on civil liabilities.

Authorizes a servicemember to waive any of the rights and protections afforded under the Act. Requires certain waivers to be made pursuant to a written agreement in order to be effective (waivers that would permit the modification, termination, cancellation, repossession, sale, foreclosure, or forfeiture of property that was the subject of a legal instrument).

Provides that an application by a servicemember in military service for a stay, postponement, or suspension of the payment of any tax, fine, penalty, insurance premium, or other civil obligation or liability shall not provide the basis for denial or revocation of, or a change in, credit by creditors, a presumption that such individual cannot pay his or her obligation or liability, an adverse credit report, or a refusal of an insurer to insure such individual. Treats a preexisting business debt or obligation of a servicemember ordered to active duty as an obligation of the servicemember for purposes of the Act. Defines the legal representative of a servicemember for purposes of the Act.

Requires a court, in an action in which the defendant is in military service, to grant a minimum 90-day stay of proceedings upon application of counsel or court motion if the court determines that: (1) there may be a defense to the action that the defendant cannot present unless present at the action; or (2) after due diligence, counsel has been unable to contact the defendant or otherwise determine if a meritorious defense exists. Protects bona fide purchasers under a default judgment if such judgment is set aside on behalf of a servicemember. Provides for a minimum 90-day stay of proceedings at any stage before final judgment in a civil action for a servicemember who is serving on active duty or is within 90 days after termination of such duty and has received notice of such proceedings, upon appropriate application by the servicemember or his or her commanding officer. Provides for application for an additional stay based on continuing material effect of military duty on the servicemember's ability to appear. Requires the court to appoint counsel for the servicemember when such application for additional stay is refused. Provides that an application for stay does not constitute a waiver of any substantive or procedural defense.

Authorizes a court to stay a judgment or order against a servicemember or vacate or stay an attachment when a servicemember is materially affected due to military service in complying with such order. Authorizes such stay actions for the period of military service and 30 (currently, 60) days after.

Provides that the statute of limitations will apply to a servicemember for filing of claims against the United States, unless: (1) the cause of action accrues in time of war or period of service outside the United States, or such circumstances arise within two years after the cause of actions accrues, and if material effect is shown; and (2) the claim is filed within the applicable statute period or two years after the war or period of service outside the United States is terminated, whichever is later.

Forgives the payment of interest in excess of six percent a year on obligations or liabilities by a servicemember while in service. Requires a servicemember, in order to be protected by the six percent cap, to provide creditors with written notice and a copy of his or her service orders, as well as any orders for service extension, within 180 days after termination or release from such service. Allows the court to grant a creditor relief from the six percent limit if the ability of the servicemember to pay interest in excess of the cap is not materially affected by reason of military service.

Prohibits an eviction or distress from being made against a service member or his or her dependents during a period of military service with respect to a premise for which the agreed rent does not exceed $1,200 (currently, $150) per month or a monthly basic allowance for quarters rate, whichever is greater, except by court order. Allows an eviction or distress proceeding to be stayed for more than 90 days if, in the court's opinion, justice and equity require a different period. Allows a court to adjust the obligation under the lease in order to preserve the interests of all parties.

Allows a court, when a servicemember has paid installments on an installment contract before entering military service, to order repayment to the servicemember of all or part of such paid installments as a condition to terminating the contract. Extends such protection to contracts for leases of property (currently, only to purchases).

Authorizes the court to stay proceedings or adjust party obligations in the case of claims filed to enforce mortgage or trust deed payments for up to 90 days after a servicemember's period of military service (currently, for the service period only).

Extends lease termination provisions (provisions allowing persons in military service a more expedient notice and termination process due to such service) to servicemembers executing a lease and thereafter receiving orders for a permanent change of station or to deploy with a military unit for at least 90 days.

Entitles a dependent of a servicemember, upon application to a court, to protections of the Act concerning rent, installment contracts, mortgages, leases, and life insurance policies if the dependent's ability to comply with a lease, contract, bailment, or other obligation is materially affected by reason of the servicemember's military service.

Increases the total amount of life insurance coverage protection provided by title IV of the Act to $120,000, or an amount equal to the Servicemen's Group Life Insurance (SGLI) maximum limit, whichever is greater. (Currently, the limit is $10,000.)

States that findings of fact and conclusions of law made by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs with respect to the guaranteed insurance provisions of title IV of the Act may be reviewed by the Board of Veterans Appeals and the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals. (Currently, such findings and conclusions are not reviewable by any other official or agency of the Government.)

Protects former servicemembers from certain land entry and mining claim requirements during their period of rehabilitation from injury or illness incurred during military service. Extends for up to 60 days after the beginning of an assessment year the period during which a claimant is permitted to file a notice communicating the claimant's military service and the desire to hold the mining claim during such service.

Directs the Secretary of the military department concerned (currently, the Secretary of the Interior) to issue to servicemembers information and applicable forms with respect to protections afforded under the Act during military service.

Entitles all servicemembers (currently, only those under age 21) to full protection of laws relating to lands owned or controlled by the United States, including mining and mineral leasing laws.

Prohibits a tax jurisdiction (a State or political subdivision) from using the military compensation of a non-resident servicemember to increase the tax liability imposed on other income earned by such servicemember or his or her spouse. Treats Indian servicemembers whose legal residence or domicile is a Federal Indian reservation as taxable under the laws applicable to such reservation as opposed to the State in which the reservation is located.

Extends certain power-of-attorney protections authorized under the Act to include a power of attorney that expires by its terms after July 31, 1990 (currently, such protections extend only to power of attorney executed during the Vietnam era).

Suspends a professional liability insurance policy period (thereby not requiring insurance coverage payments to be made) for the period of active military service in the case of a person providing professional services under a professional liability insurance contract who entered into active duty after July 31, 1990. Prohibits the insurance carrier from requiring payments to be made during the period of such suspended coverage, but makes such carrier not liable with respect to any claim that is based on professional conduct of a servicemember that occurs during a period of suspended coverage. Requires any professional liability insurance so suspended on account of active duty service to be automatically reinstated by the insurance carrier on the date requested by the servicemember, as long as the servicemember makes such request within 30 days after being released from active duty. Requires the "new" insurance period to be no less than the period which would have been in effect had the insurance coverage not been suspended. Prohibits the insurance carrier from increasing the premium to be charged for such professional liability insurance, except for general increases applicable to all such insurance contracts. Provides for the stay of an action for damages against a servicemember whose coverage has been suspended for the period of such suspension, under certain conditions. Provides for the: (1) computation of an appropriate statute of limitations with respect to an action which could have been brought except for the suspension of coverage and the staying of an action during such suspension; and (2) effect of a servicemember's death on such professional liability insurance coverage, its suspension, and any actions brought or stayed with respect to such servicemember before, during, or after the period of suspended coverage.

Provides that a servicemember entitled to the rights and protections of the Act shall also be entitled, upon termination or release from military service, to reinstatement of any health insurance that: (1) was in effect when the servicemember was ordered to report for active service; and (2) was terminated during the period of service. Prohibits any exclusions or waiting periods from being imposed upon such a returning servicemember for such health insurance if: (1) the condition that is the basis for such exclusion or waiting period arose before or during the servicemember's training or military service; (2) such exclusion or waiting period would not be imposed for the condition during the period of coverage; and (3) such condition is not determined by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to be a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.