Members of the armed forces who possess a security clearance have worked hard to prove they can be trusted with our country’s most sensitive information. Most do not realize their irresponsible money habits, specifically delinquent debt, may cause their clearance to be revoked…potentially ending their career. When service members initially complete the clearance process, they’re typically in the first half of their career and have not yet accumulated much debt.
To maintain your clearance, a periodic reinvestigation (PR) is done every 5 years for TOP SECRET, 10 years for SECRET, and 15 years for CONFIDENTIAL. However, military personnel and civilian DoD employees may be subjected to a reinvestigation at any time! Having worked with both military and DoD civilians through the very stressful and often embarrassing process of responding to a denial – your command is made aware and you’ll typically lose access to work files – I felt it important to share information on this unspoken reality.
If you or someone you know has received a Letter of Intent (LOI) to deny security clearance with an attached Statement of Reason (SOR), it’s critical you take the following steps immediately.
1. Respond on time!
The LOI has a response deadline, which is usually 10 calendar days from the date of receipt, or the decision to deny will become final. You will also have 30-60 days to respond to the SOR. Follow the directions exactly to ensure your responses are received on time.
2. Seek professional help!
Roughly 75% of rebuttals are denied, potentially resulting in a lengthy appeals process. Military installations offer free support via their financial and legal counselors. These professionals have experience and access to the resources required to help you navigate this process successfully.
3. Check your credit report!
Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to obtain a free, current copy of your credit report from all three bureaus; TransUnion, Equifax, and Experion. Often times the creditors and amounts in question on your SOR are not up to date and can easily be disproven.
4. Answer every item in detail!
Rebuttal remarks like, “It’s not mine”, “I was deployed”, and “Already paid off” are not adequate and will more than likely result in a denial. Take the time to clearly address every item and include proof to support your answer. Enclosures should be included, as needed, for each. Proof may include letters showing the creditor could not verify the debt, military orders showing dates you deployed or PSCed, canceled checks showing evidence of payment, and payment agreements made with creditors.
5. Include a cover letter!
If you have been working closely with a professional or your command/supervisor, ask them to include a statement addressing your willingness to seek help and why the behavior is not likely to reoccur.