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Rights and benefits for military personnel

Rights and benefits for military personnel

Federal and state laws offer many protections, rights, and benefits to military personnel and their families. Here are some of the most important ones to keep in mind.

The Federal Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act of 1940 protects military members and their families. The protection begins when you start service and ends 30 to 90 days after you are discharged. It offers the following protections:

HOME LIFE

Landlords cannot evict your dependents if your rent is less than $1,200 per month. They need to get a court order to do so. The court can delay the eviction process for up to three months.

You can end a rental lease you started before you entered the military if you need to. You need  to give your landlord a written notice after getting the call for active duty.

You have to give 30 days’ notice for month-to-month leases. You can end a regular lease on the last day of the following month. Your landlord has to give you back your security deposit and any rent you paid in advance.

You’re protected from foreclosure if you can’t make mortgage payments while you’re in military service. You’ll have to prove that the reason you can’t pay is because of your service. This only applies to property that you bought before you entered the military. You or your dependents must own the property.

FINANCIAL

You don’t have to pay more than 6 percent interest on a loan while you’re serving in the military. This only applies if you got a loan with an interest rate of more than 6 percent before you entered the service.

Your state can tax your military income and property, but you can defer your state income tax for the time you’re in the service, plus six months.  A city or town also can’t sell your property to pay a tax bill or assessment during this time.

INSURANCE

You have the right to get your health insurance back if you start working again after you leave the military. You can also buy COBRA-type insurance while you’re in the service.

Your life insurance policy can't be terminated for non-payment while you're in the military, and for two years after you leave active duty. You can suspend professional liability insurance while you're in the service. You'll need to send a written letter to your carrier.

COURT PROTECTIONS

Your rights to defend or pursue a lawsuit are protected while you're serving in the military:

  • The court can't find a default judgment for failure to appear unless the person suing you proves that you’re not in the military. If you are, the court will give you a lawyer and delay the hearing.
  • You can reopen a defaulted case if you apply within 90 days after you leave active duty.
  • The court must delay a proceeding if you're unable to attend because of active duty. The court will delay the case while you're in service, plus 60 days after you return.
  • Your time in military service doesn’t count toward statute of limitations timelines, but it does count toward federal tax laws.
Still have questions? Contact:
Veterans Services
43 Hawkins Street
3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02114
United States

Your Rights

One of the big things to keep in mind is that your job is protected while you're on active duty. Federal and state laws give you the right to get your job back when you return, though this doesn't apply if you were dishonorably discharged.

Your time in the service is treated as a leave of absence. You have the right to get your old job back, with seniority rights, if you return to work within two years. Your pension will earn credit for military service.

You must give your employer advance notice and must not be in the service for more than five years. You can find more information on the US Department of Labor’s website.

You also have other rights as an active military member:

CIVIL SERVICE EXAMS

You can put an exam on hold if you passed the written part but can't appear for a physical test. If you are physically or mentally unable to return to your civil service job after serving, you can retire. This doesn't apply if you were dishonorably discharged.

OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS

Certain commissioner officers can authorize official documents, like real estate deeds and powers of attorney. They can also act as notaries and justices of the peace.

LICENSE, PERMIT, AND REGISTRATION RENEWALS

While you are in the military, you have six months after licenses, permits, and registrations expire to renew them. But, if you driver’s license expires, you have two months after your military service ends to renew it.

OTHER BENEFITS

Employers cannot discriminate against your rights as a member of the State National Guard. If you work for the state, you'll get paid your state salary while on certain types of duty, including:

  • annual training
  • emergency assistance
  • repelling invasions or insurrections
  • controlling riots or mobs, or
  • protecting people and property during natural disasters.

You may be able to get a property tax exemption if you can prove financial hardship because of a call-up to active service. You’ll get a tax deferral and a recovery agreement. Visit the State website to learn more.

You can get other benefits if you are a veteran. These include preference in civil service exams and the ability to buy back military time. The state has more information about veterans' rights. Also, please keep in mind:

  • You may have protection from getting laid off if you’re a veteran. You have a right to a similar position if you’re laid off while in the service, and you had a tenure of three years at your job.
  • Civil Service workers are protected from layoffs. Disabled veterans are given protection over all other workers, including other veterans.