How To Navigate Bankruptcy As A Military Service Member

By Published On: April 14, 2023Categories: Blog, Bankruptcy

Military service members often face unique financial challenges, including the potential for overwhelming debt. While filing for bankruptcy can provide a path to debt relief, we sometimes hear concerns that doing so may affect benefits, promotions, and security clearance within the military. However, it is essential to understand that these concerns are largely unfounded and that bankruptcy can be a viable option for military members looking to get out of debt.

This article explores the special circumstances faced by active duty military service members or veterans, such as housing allowances, disability benefits, and overseas deployment. It also discusses how filing for bankruptcy likely won’t affect the existing benefits, promotions, and security clearances associated with military service. Military bankruptcy attorneys can help active servicemen and veterans navigate the bankruptcy process so that they can secure financial wellness.

Navigating The Bankruptcy Process As A Member Of The Military Community

Military Service & Bankruptcy

Service members in the military often encounter a distinct set of financial difficulties that can make debt management challenging. For instance, housing allowances and other perks given to military personnel may fluctuate due to deployment or other circumstances.

Furthermore, disability benefits and other sources of income may have limitations or be subject to alterations. Despite these difficulties, it’s crucial to understand that filing for bankruptcy will not impact a service member’s current benefits, advancement opportunities, or security clearance within the military.

Special Circumstances For Military Service Members

The unique financial circumstances faced by military service members and veterans can make it difficult to manage debt. At Lincoln-Goldfinch Law, we are all passionate about ensuring that everyone is able to explore the pathways to financial relief that are available to them.

We are used to helping our clients navigate various circumstances. These include the economic challenges associated with frequent deployments, long periods of separation from families, and the inherent risks and sacrifices associated with military service.

Housing Allowances

Housing allowances are a common financial benefit for military service members stationed or deployed to certain areas. These allowances are intended to help cover the cost of housing, utilities, and other expenses.

While housing allowances can provide valuable financial support, they are also subject to change based on deployment status, making it challenging for service members to budget and manage debt. In some cases, the housing allowance amount may be reduced or increased, making it essential for service members to review their financial situation and adjust their budget accordingly regularly.

Disability Benefits

Military service members injured or who become ill while on active duty may be eligible for disability benefits. These benefits are intended to provide financial support to service members unable to continue their military service.

However, the number of disability benefits received can vary and may be limited in scope or subject to change based on a service member’s medical condition or other factors. This variability can make it challenging for service members to manage their debt and plan for the future.

Overseas Deployment

Service members deployed overseas can face various financial challenges related to the cost of living in a foreign country. For example, housing, food, and other essentials may be higher in certain areas, making it difficult to budget and manage debt.

Additionally, service members may face challenges when managing their finances from a distance, often facing hurdles that make it hard to access their bank accounts and pay bills. Service members overseas must consider these unique financial challenges when planning their finances and seeking debt relief.

Separation Pay

Service members separating from the military may be eligible for separation pay, which can help cover expenses associated with the transition to civilian life. This pay may provide financial support for housing, education, or other costs.

However, separation pay is also subject to taxes, which can reduce the amount received and make it difficult to manage debt. Service members separating from the military must consider this tax burden when planning their finances.

Readjustment Allowances

Like separation pay, readjustment allowances are intended to provide financial support to service members who are separating from the military. These allowances can cover expenses associated with the transition to civilian life, such as housing, education, and other essentials.

However, like separation pay, readjustment allowances may also be subject to taxes. Service members must evaluate this tax burden when managing their finances.

Family Separation Allowance

Service members separated from their families due to deployment, or training may be eligible for Family Separation Allowance (FSA). This financial benefit is intended to help cover expenses related to the separation, such as travel, communication, and other essentials.

FSA can provide valuable financial support to service members and their families during separation, helping reduce financial stress and improve overall well-being.

Post-9/11 GI Bill

Active duty service members who served in the military after September 10, 2001, may be eligible for educational benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. These benefits can be used to pay for college, vocational training, and other educational expenses.

However, these benefits may be subject to change based on the service member’s deployment status or other factors. Service members must stay informed of their eligibility and the terms of their benefits to make the most of these educational opportunities and reduce their financial stress.

Despite these challenges, it is essential to understand that filing for bankruptcy will not affect existing benefits, promotions, or security clearance within the military.

The bankruptcy process is a legal procedure that has no bearing on a service member’s security clearance status, ability to receive promotions or other forms of advancement, or deployment status. Bankruptcy can be a viable option for military members looking to get out of debt and secure a debt-free life.

Protection For Service Members During Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy as a military service member may seem daunting, but it is essential to understand that it will not affect existing benefits, promotions, or security clearance. This is protected under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (or SCRA), which provides financial and legal protections to active duty service members.

The Means Test is a specific financial calculation that determines qualification for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or, in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, is used to assess how much (if any) will be paid to unsecured creditors.

This calculation is affected by certain kinds of benefits under the HAVEN Act and other laws. In some cases, active duty service members and veterans may be able to avoid the Means Test entirely.

A service member’s security clearance is usually not impacted by a bankruptcy filing, except perhaps those at the highest levels. This means service members can file for bankruptcy without worrying about losing their security clearance or access to sensitive information.

Similarly, promotions are also protected under the SCRA. Filing for bankruptcy will not affect a service member’s chances for promotion or advancement within the military. Generally, this means that service members can file for bankruptcy without worrying about any negative impacts on their military careers.

It is important to note that the SCRA only applies to active-duty service members, not veterans. However, veterans may still be eligible for other forms of financial protection through bankruptcy. An experienced Bankruptcy Lawyer can help navigate these options and ensure that a service member’s rights are protected throughout the process.

Understanding Military Bankruptcy: Key Considerations For Service Members

Help For Active Service Members & Veterans

Reaching financial wellness is an important goal for military service members. With their unique financial challenges, bankruptcy can be an effective way to get a fresh start and achieve financial stability. However, navigating the bankruptcy process can be complicated, especially for active service members who may be deployed or stationed overseas.

That’s where Bankruptcy Attorneys come in. They have extensive experience in helping clients navigate the bankruptcy process and are well-versed in the unique circumstances military servicemembers face. They are ready to help active service members and veterans understand the bankruptcy process and help them determine if it is the right choice for their financial situation.

A military bankruptcy attorney can help military service members understand their rights and protections under the law, including the special bankruptcy provisions for military service members, such as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA provides additional protections for military service members, such as the ability to delay certain legal proceedings, including bankruptcy proceedings, while on active duty.

In addition to helping military service members navigate the bankruptcy process, a Bankruptcy Attorney can also assist with debt negotiation and debt management while working with creditors to develop a payment plan that is affordable and manageable. They can also help military service members strategize how to gain long-term financial stability and rebuild one’s credit score so their finances can bounce back stronger than ever.

With the help of a Bankruptcy Attorney, active service members, and veterans can confidently navigate the bankruptcy process, knowing their rights are protected along the way.

How Can Lincoln-Goldfinch Law Help?

If you’re a military service member or veteran needing debt relief, you must work with a law firm that understands your unique challenges. At Lincoln-Goldfinch Law, we have a well-established track record of helping active duty service members and veterans with their bankruptcy cases.

We understand the unique circumstances that service members face, such as deployment, family separation, and limited income. Rest assured that we are passionate about ensuring these factors are considered when evaluating a client’s financial situation.

Additionally, Lincoln-Goldfinch Law offers various services to help military service members and veterans navigate the bankruptcy process. We are ready to provide guidance on the different types of bankruptcy options available, such as Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings, while also being transparent about the pros and cons of each. Our firm also works with clients to create a customized debt relief plan that considers their unique financial situation and goals.

We are committed to customer care. We understand that bankruptcy can be stressful and confusing. We have specific systems in place that allow us to work together with you in a collaborative way to make the bankruptcy process as smooth and as straightforward as possible. Our team is available to answer questions, provide support, and address clients’ concerns throughout the process.

If you’re a military service member or veteran in need of debt relief, consider giving us a call. Let us help you catch up on sleep! Reach out to us so that we can answer your questions or concerns. We are ready to put our experience, knowledge, and commitment to customer service to work for you!  Regain control of your finances and get back on the path to financial stability.

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About the Author: Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch

I am the managing partner of Lincoln-Goldfinch Law. Upon graduating from the University of Texas for college and law school, I received an Equal Justice Works Fellowship in 2008, completed at American Gateways. My project served the detained families seeking asylum. After my fellowship, I entered private immigration practice. My firm offers family-based immigration, such as greencards and naturalization, deportation defense, and humanitarian cases such as asylum, U Visa, and VAWA. Everyone at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law is bilingual, has a connection to our cause, and has demonstrated a history of activism for immigrants. To us, our work is not just a job. After the pandemic we began offering bankruptcy services in addition to immigration I realized how much lack of information there is in financial literacy resources in Spanish.

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