Unresolved Financial Concerns Lead to Clearance Denial in PSH-23-0064

In addition to alcohol, drug use, psychological and other concerns, Financial Concerns can lead to the suspension or denial of a security clearance. However, if you consult with an Attorney with experience representing people in security clearance hearings very early, then you can often put together a repayment plan, address some delinquencies, address and mitigate some concerns, and protect your employment by taking any concerns raised by past or present debts, failure to pay legitimate bills or debts, or failure to pay your taxes.  Don’t delay - schedule your confidential consultation today.

In PSH-23-0064, there were both Guideline E (Personal Conduct) and Guideline F (Financial) concerns that were raised and unfortunately not resolved.   The fundamental concern under Guideline E was the failure to disclose several delinquent accounts. Thoroughness is essential for any QNSP/ SF-86/ eQIP, because reviewers will not know if you withheld something due to an inadvertent mistake or intentional omission and proving that can be quite difficult.

The Hearing Officer cites crucial caselaw on the importance of accurate and abundant disclosure in a Questionnaire for National Security Position (QNSP also referred to as an eQIP or SF-86).  Judge Rahimzadeh wrote that:

A QNSP is an important tool in establishing whether an individual is fit to hold a security clearance. Any individual “seeking a security clearance should be well aware of the need for complete, honest and candid answers to DOE questions. Therefore[,] when completing a QNSP such an individual should err on the side ofproviding too much rather than too little information.” Personnel Security Hearing, OHA Case No. TSO-0023 at 30-31 (2003).

Guideline F concern include but are not limited to “failure to live within one’s means, satisfy debts, and meet financial obligations “may indicate poor self-control, lack of judgment, or unwillingness to abide by rules and regulations, all of which can raise questions about an individual's reliability, trustworthiness, and ability toprotect classified or sensitive information.” (See p. 3 of PSH-23-0064) This can include as a security concern an inability to pay debts, an unwillingness to pay debts even if you could afford to pay them, or a history of not meeting financial obligations.

The individual had failed to disclose several delinquent accounts years before when they were in active duty for one of the branches of the armed services about fifteen years before the hearing.  The individual’s misunderstanding of what he thought he was supposed to disclose on his QNSP appears to not have been convincing to the Judge and cross examination or direct testimony revealed that he was aware that his mortgage had been delinquent within the past seven years.

The individual in this case took some positive steps to address their debts including even hiring an attorney to help them address their delinquent mortgage, and the reported amount delinquent in this case was only $37,310, but they did not begin to start addressing their debts until one to two months before the hearing which was discrepant (inconsistent) with the statement that they gave an during an Enhanced Subject Interview (ESI) the year before. Further harming the individual’s case was that they had not used a previous bonus to pay down previous debts as they indicated that they would in a previous Letter of Interrogatory (LOI) response.

Individual’s facing similar concerns can affirmatively show that they acted reasonably and behaved responsibly under the circumstances.  However, in this case the Judge held that, “While I understand these circumstances were arguably beyond the Individual’s control, I cannot conclude that he behaved responsibly under the circumstances.”

While it is unfortunate that the individual in a very difficult situation here, was unable to resolve the Guideline E or Guideline F Concerns, both his experience in hearings on the same and similar issues and reviewing caselaw like this helps Attorney Ellis advocate for his clients in security clearance hearings and appeals.   Whether you are submitting your 1st or your 5th eQIP (QNSP/SF-86), concerned about how to mitigate derogatory information after you have complied with any mandatory reporting obligation, have other questions, or need representation in a Security Clearance Hearing - Don’t delay - schedule your confidential consultation today.