Here’s your weekly DOHA dose – a shot of security clearance appeal cases and their outcome. The Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals releases the results of their security clearance appeals cases. They’re one of the best insights into which clearance cases are granted or denied in the Department of Defense.
True or False: If you default on both a mortgage and a $20,000 truck payment, you won’t be able to get a security clearance.
We’ve written recently about how ignorance of the law (or blaming your spouse for not following it), is not an excuse to shirk your financial obligations. But for anyone who’s ever deployed, given their truck to their girlfriend who stopped making payments and never got it back, today’s DOHA dose has hope for you.
The applicant in question served in the military for nine years. His security clearance concerns actually began when he accepted an OCONUS contracting job after leaving the military – and left his then-girlfriend to make his car and house payments while he was overseas. Over the course of two years, the girlfriend withdrew money from the applicant’s accounts when the payments were due – but never actually paid them. According to the court records, the applicant immediately began reaching out to his creditors when he became aware of the issue. His (probably former by now) girlfriend was in possession of the truck and the applicant worked with the creditor to get the car back into their possession, and the debt was then charged off. The home was in the process of foreclosure, and the lender said it was too late to stop that process. Both charged off debts totaled more than $150,000. The applicant had other delinquent debts but was able to resolve all of them by 2017.
When Your Security Clearance is a Country Song
The applicant is likely very far from the first individual to accept an overseas assignment and then find their financial steward failing to do the job. (For the record, online banking today has made limiting culpability for these things harder, but if you have a paper trail where you can see why you thought the applicants were making payments, you’re in a better position). Blaming a third party is usually not a great response, but in this case, the fact that the applicant was overseas, didn’t have possession of the truck, and took proactive steps to reach out to creditors and deal with debts was a good sign. All secondary debts were paid off by 2017, two years prior to the security clearance application being submitted. Taking proactive steps to address debt is one of the best ways to mitigate any issues.
False: Even $150,000 in debt doesn’t mean a clearance denial.
$150,000 in charged off debt may seem like a financial hurdle too high for the average security clearance applicant to tackle. But when it comes to debt, the mitigating factors matter. The biggest mitigation in this applicant’s case wasn’t the fact that he blamed his girlfriend (which he didn’t), but that he took so many steps to address the debt when he became aware of it. While initially issued a Statement of Reasons, the applicant was able to show what he had done to address the debt and why the $150,000 in charge-offs had occurred.
Moral: if you run into financial issues, take the bull by the horns and do everything you can to address them. And don’t loan your girlfriend your pickup.