What you need to know about being in the military and filing for bankruptcy.

Edrie Pfeiffer
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Edrie Pfeiffer, Bankruptcy & Divorce Attorney

“Will Bankruptcy affect my security clearance?” is one of the biggest concerns that prevents our military members from reaching out for financial help. Attorney Bradstreet breaks down all the information you need to know.

Having a bankruptcy on your record does not mean you automatically lose your security clearance, or that it bars you from getting one at a later date. It will depend on the circumstances that led you into filing bankruptcy as well as your financial history that will be taken into account when they are considering you in the evaluation process.

When being considered for a security clearance, your superiors will take a number of things into account such as your personal conduct, drug use, sexual behavior, foreign influences, psychological disorders, criminal history, handling of classified information, and your allegiance to the United states. Each decision is made on a case by case basis.

One of the considerations for a security clearance is whether or not you are financially responsible. This is because you might be viewed as a security risk if you have lack of self-control or possibly have poor judgment that might even lead you to commit illegal acts in order to meet your financial obligations.

A few situations that could be “disqualifying” would be if you aren't able or willing to pay off your debts, irresponsibility with your spending habits,  and attempting to live above your means by having an expensive lifestyle that is inconsistent with your income. Other issues that could come up? Having financial problems due to gambling or alcohol and drug use, committing acts such as embezzlement, tax evasion, theft or some other form of financial misconduct, and finally just having consistent difficulty meeting financial obligations like your car payment or over drafting your bank account.

Here’s the surprise about bankruptcy: Filing for bankruptcy could in some instances increase your chances of approval for security clearance because you are showing a willingness to take steps forward in resolving your debts and financial issues. This is because debt-free people are less likely to take bribes or commit some form of illegal act, which makes them a better candidate for security clearance.

Like I said in the beginning, a bankruptcy will not necessarily be a quick fix. They will look at the circumstances that led you to file for bankruptcy. Maybe something happened unexpectedly like the loss of a job or your child got sick and this led to a mountain of debt you couldn't’t handle. This would be viewed more favorably than someone who wracked up credit card debt by gambling and drinking and being financially irresponsible.

When considering whether bankruptcy will jeopardize your security clearance, look at why you are filing for bankruptcy and see if there are other underlying issues. If you currently have a security clearance and you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, you will have to tell someone in your office, most likely your boss or supervisor, otherwise it looks like you are hiding something. This might be a good time to ask them if bankruptcy will put you at risk.

Contact our office for free information before you even schedule an appointment!

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