When an applicant for a security clearance is denied, the Department of Defense will issue a “statement of reasons” to the applicant advising him of the basis for the decision.  The applicant may then request a hearing for review of that decision, and, if still unsatisfied, appeal that determination. 

Each month the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals releases decisions of the appealed cases. Below is a highlight from the November decisions.



The applicant for a security clearance in this case was a federal contract employee and E-7 military retiree.  While deployed, his spouse handled their finances. They filed for bankruptcy in 1999 with over $50,000 in consumer debt.  During a reinvestigation interview, the applicant acknowledged he must begin to live within his means; however, the family subsequently acquired more delinquent credit card debt. The applicant admitted his indebtedness was “out of my own stupidity.”  He then met with a debt management company and established a repayment plan.  He has held a clearance since 1979 without incident, is active in several civic and religious organizations and has a reputation for trustworthiness.

He was denied a clearance on account of security concerns under Guideline F, “Financial Considerations,” of the Adjudicative Guidelines.


Clearance denial affirmed.  The Appeals Board affirmed the Judge’s conclusion; the Judge cited several central reasons supporting the decision:

  • The applicant failed to demonstrate a track record of debt resolution.
  • His reinvestigation and interview put him on notice that delinquent debts were matters of security concern.  Despite this, his failed to act accordingly.
  • Allowing his wife to handle the finances resulted in his being unaware of the problems, thus demonstrating a level of inattention to debt obligations inconsistent with the judgment expected of a cleared individual.
Read more about the impact of delinquent debt on security clearances:

You thought you just vowed for ‘in sickness and health?’ For clearance holders, the phrase ‘in debt or wealth’ also applies. A security clearance applicant will be held responsible for the financial irresponsibility of a spouse. It’s just one of the reasons clearance holders are required to include information about their spouse or significant other on their security clearance applications. It’s also a critical reason why you need to report a separation or divorce immediately to your security officer.

If you do get into debt or experience financial issues, it’s important to resolve problems as quickly as possible. Seek help from a debt counselor and begin to make serious steps to correct the irresponsible behavior that led to debt. Involve your spouse in this process. Their financial irresponsibility will affect your security clearance.


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