Skip to main content

Financial help for servicemembers

Although veterans will continue to receive their benefits and active-duty servicemembers will continue to receive their pay, some military personnel and their families are facing financial strain due to lost employment or changes in military orders. If you need financial assistance as a result of the pandemic, there is help.

Resources to help

Financial assistance for servicemembers and military families

You may have a number of decisions to make, but remember that you’re still in control of your money. Members of the military also have access to special programs for financial relief.

Military aid societies

Emergency grants and zero-interest loans may be available to help cover lost pay, childcare costs, rent/mortgage assistance, quarantine expenses, or other financial emergencies. Servicemembers and military families experiencing coronavirus-related hardship can apply for help through their respective military aid society: Army Emergency Relief , Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society , Air Force Aid Society , or Coast Guard Mutual Assistance .

The aid societies will also consider applications for assistance from activated (Title 10) National Guard and Reserve members on a case-by-case basis. Activated National Guard and Reserve members may qualify if they are experiencing financial hardship due to a cancelled deployment, the Department of Defense (DoD) travel ban, or other relief society stipulations. Army Emergency Relief will also consider applications from non-Title 10 Guard and Reserve soldiers with the same stipulations.

All military aid societies, except the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, have an online application. All members of the Armed Services can also apply by phone for financial assistance–routed to their service branch relief society–through the American Red Cross .

Pay and allowances

The DoD has authorized specific pay and allowances for servicemembers in a variety of situations. Those include people who have been ordered to self-isolate or monitor for COVID-19 but are unable to do so at home or at government facilities. Military families affected by the Stop Movement Order , which halts Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves and other military travel until May 11, 2020, may also be provided specific travel allowances. Check with your command to see if you’re eligible for Hardship Duty Pay or other additional allowances such as Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), Family Separation Allowance (FSA-Restricted or FSA-Temporary), or per diem travel allowances that can provide you with additional financial support.

Contact your command and service branch shipping office immediately if you’re experiencing financial hardship because you’re separated from your personal and household belongings due to the Stop Movement Order.

Mortgages

Some servicemembers may have trouble managing their mortgage payments because of financial hardships associated with COVID-19. A new federal law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economy Security (CARES) Act, establishes protection for homeowners with federally backed mortgages —which includes loans guaranteed by Fannie Mae , Freddie Mac , the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or U. S. Department of Agriculture . If you have a mortgage that isn’t backed by the federal government and can’t make your payments, your mortgage servicer or your state may be offering additional options.

Learn more about your mortgage options and steps to take.

If you rent, you may have protection under the CARES Act, especially if you’re renting from a property owner with a federally backed mortgage. Some states have also acted to prohibit landlords from evicting residents if they can’t pay rent. Check the websites of your state government, state court , or branch’s legal assistance office for details and updates.

Tax refunds

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has pushed back the federal tax filing deadline to July 15 . If you can file now, however, tax refunds are being processed as returns are received and it can offer timely financial relief.

Learn more about free tax preparation services for servicemembers.

Student loans

If you’re a servicemember with federally-held student loans, the CARES Act also automatically suspends principal and interest payments on federally-held loans through September 30, 2020. However, if you have private student loans or a federally-backed loan owned by a commercial lender or the institution or school you attended, contact your servicer if you can’t make your loan payments. They may have some options to help. If your federal student loan is in default, please be aware that involuntary collection activities like wage and benefits garnishments have been suspended during this period. No one should be contacting you to collect or taking collection action. However, you can continue to make payments to bring your loan up-to-date if you have the means.

Financial counseling

If you’re a servicemember or military family in need of financial advice, whether it’s navigating COVID-19-related financial hardships or handling other money matters, you can also get one-on-one financial counseling remotely, by phone and video, from Military OneSource financial counselors .

Military consumer protections

There are two important consumer protection laws specific to servicemembers. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and the Military Lending Act (MLA) provide legal and financial protections for active-duty servicemembers, military spouses and National Guard personnel and reservists on active duty for more than 30 consecutive days. Some protections apply to some dependents as well.

The SCRA gives you the ability to terminate contracts like vehicle leases, cell phone plans, and residential leases under certain conditions without having to pay early termination charges. It provides protections against default legal judgments and in some circumstances prohibits repossession, foreclosure, and eviction without a court order. The MLA provides servicemembers and certain dependents with legal protections for many types of consumer credit and loans. It also prohibits lenders from requiring servicemembers to create military allotments to get a loan. And, both the SCRA and MLA provide interest rate benefits: the SCRA entitles you to reduce the interest rate to 6 percent on certain pre-service loans, and the MLA means that you can’t be charged more than 36 percent for many loans you take out during your service. The MLA also prohibits lenders from requiring servicemembers to waive certain consumer rights.

If you believe your rights are being violated, contact your branch’s legal assistance office or your state attorney general’s office .

Watch out for scams

Be aware of an increase in coronavirus-related scams that target consumers who are afraid, confused, or financially impacted by the pandemic. As a servicemember, if you’re concerned about scams, you can take the proactive step of placing an Active Duty Alert on your credit report.

Changes to veteran and servicemember benefits

Even though the VA has adjusted its operations during the COVID-19 outbreak, benefits and services for servicemembers, veterans, their families, and survivors will continue to be provided. However, there are some changes being made to existing programs in light of the challenges presented by COVID-19.

VA benefits

For the safety and security of veterans, especially those with underlying health conditions, the VA is changing how it administers and processes veteran benefits. Regional offices continue to operate but will be closed to the public for in-person services. However, the agency is expanding its online services for veterans to get information or file a claim for benefits .

GI Bill benefits

A recently signed law enables the VA to continue providing students with full GI Bill benefits, even as their academic programs move online. It permits the GI Bill program to continue paying benefits, including monthly housing allowances and living stipends, at existing rates for full-time students rather than reverting to lower rates for distance learning. The benefits for students already taking online classes remains unchanged.

Other Benefits

Veterans may be entitled to other benefits that can help with COVID-19 related issues. You can search for benefits online or contact your local state veterans affairs office .

Money management tools

These online educational resources can help you improve your money management skills, navigate purchases, and make more informed decisions about your everyday money choices.

Other federal resources