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Is My Top Secret Security Clearance in Jeopardy From My Debt? – Mark

“Dear Steve,

I currently have a Top Secret Clearance with my job but i also have alot of debt. I’m current with all my payments but things are getting really tight. I’m worried my debts are gonna get out of control and that it could affect the clearance i have. I have worked really hard to get where i am and i dont wanna lose my Government job of 6 years.

What options do i have to help reduce my debt without it affecting my Top Secret Clearance with my job?

Mark”

The Answer

 

Dear Mark,

Good for you, you’re on the right track here. Too much debt and a poor credit score can be more damaging than other solutions like bankruptcy. To quote the Air Force on this:

The status of your security clearance can be affected, but it is not automatic. The outcome depends on the circumstances that led up to the bankruptcy and a number of other factors, such as your job performance and relationship with your chain of command. The security section will weigh whether the bankruptcy was caused primarily by an unexpected event, such as medical bills following a serious accident, or by financial irresponsibility. The security section may also consider the recommendations and comments of your chain of command and co-workers. This is an issue that can be argued both ways, so as a practical matter your security clearance probably should not be a significant factor in making your decision about whether to file bankruptcy. The amount of your unpaid debts, by itself, may jeopardize your clearance, even if you don’t file bankruptcy. In that sense, not filing for bankruptcy may make you more of a security risk due to the size of your outstanding debts. By the same token, using a government-approved means of dealing with your debts may actually be viewed as an indication of financial responsibility. Eliminating your debts through bankruptcy may make you less of a security risk.

In preparation for dealing with this, if you are having troubles making ends meet or paying your bills I think you should find a local bankruptcy attorney you like and go talk to them. Bankruptcy is the quickest way to reduce your risk in the shortest period of time.

The irony is that as long as you are maxed out or in trouble with your debt your clearance is already at risk. The smart play here would be for you to go and talk to the security officer and discuss the situation after you have met with a bankruptcy attorney and reviewed your situation. Let the security officer know the steps you are going to take, including bankruptcy, to remedy the financial situation and just make sure everyone is on the same page. If you do that then you don’t have to be stressed out about the clearance.

Please update me on your progress by posting updates here in the comments section of your question. I’m very interested in how this works out for you.


P.S. Be sure to read ‘The Secret of Surviving Through Difficult Economic Times. What I Learned On My Journey‘.

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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • SemiSpook

    Will do.

  • Steve Rhode

    There was a story in reader questions I posted yesterday about an E5 that was worried about his clearance. I posted your or opus comment there but you might want to post a comment over there with some encouragement for him as well.

  • SemiSpook

    @getoutofdebtguy:disqus Just a quick follow up: said resubmission was closed the same day I got the word back that they were fine with the information provided. Now, if my lawyer wasn’t so damned busy that I could get my final appointment set up to polish off the paperwork and file… :-)

  • Steve Rhode

    @SemiSpook – Excellent advice.

  • SemiSpook

    I’ll put my $0.02 in here. As long as your chain of command (both your direct as well as your Security Officer/SSO team), there shouldn’t be a problem. I am currently in the process of filing BK, and after reporting impending judgment cases against me, DSS came back requested a resubmission of my SF86. I filled out the pertinent information (by using the latest info in my credit reports), and the adjudication came back as fine, with the direction to report my filing and discharge as they occur.

    With a clearance, honesty is always the best policy. ALWAYS report something that may be an issue, especially finances. In this day and age, DSS/DISCO are willing to let people slide if they’re up front about their issues. The stigmas associated with debts are slowly going by the wayside as we go deeper into this housing mess, and they’d rather know that the people currently in the system are taking care of their business rather than taking a chance on someone that they don’t know, yet.

  • SemiSpook

    I’ll put my $0.02 in here. As long as your chain of command (both your direct as well as your Security Officer/SSO team), there shouldn’t be a problem. I am currently in the process of filing BK, and after reporting impending judgment cases against me, DSS came back requested a resubmission of my SF86. I filled out the pertinent information (by using the latest info in my credit reports), and the adjudication came back as fine, with the direction to report my filing and discharge as they occur.

    With a clearance, honesty is always the best policy. ALWAYS report something that may be an issue, especially finances. In this day and age, DSS/DISCO are willing to let people slide if they’re up front about their issues. The stigmas associated with debts are slowly going by the wayside as we go deeper into this housing mess, and they’d rather know that the people currently in the system are taking care of their business rather than taking a chance on someone that they don’t know, yet.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      @SemiSpook – Excellent advice.

      • SemiSpook

        @getoutofdebtguy:disqus Just a quick follow up: said resubmission was closed the same day I got the word back that they were fine with the information provided. Now, if my lawyer wasn’t so damned busy that I could get my final appointment set up to polish off the paperwork and file… :-)

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        There was a story in reader questions I posted yesterday about an E5 that was worried about his clearance. I posted your or opus comment there but you might want to post a comment over there with some encouragement for him as well.

      • SemiSpook

        Will do.

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