Bankruptcy and Security Clearances
Montgomery is a military town and Alabama is a military state! In the Montgomery area we have so many people who need security clearances for their job. These people may work at Maxwell Air Force Base or the Gunter Annex; some may be full-time guard employees on active duty, and others may work for the state or federal government and have jobs like those at the Army Corps of Engineers which requires a security clearance. Our Montgomery bankruptcy lawyers are often asked if filing a bankruptcy will affect an individual's ability to obtain a security clearance; however it is being financially irresponsible that can jeopardize your security clearance for more than filing a bankruptcy.
Decisions on whether or not to grant a security clearance are made on a case-by-case basis. There are many factors and guidelines designed to help assess an individual's security risk. These range from such things as personal conduct, sexual behavior, drug or alcohol use, psychological disorders, criminal conduct, and financial responsibility. The military and state or federal government will assess your financial responsibilities in determining whether or not to grant you a security clearance. The reasoning behind this is very simple; if you are financially irresponsible, then you may be a security concern because of your lack of poor judgement, self-control, or you may be willing to commit some illegal act for financial gain.
The following are the most common financial reasons for a disqualification of a security clearance; first not being able or willing to pay your debts or being irresponsible in your spending habits, second committing illegal acts such as tax evasion, or any other types of financial misconduct, and finally having financial problems as a result of being a gambler, alcoholic, or drug addict. We have even seen situations where a person could not get a security clearance because of their failure to timely file income tax returns.
Filing a bankruptcy may actually help your ability to obtain a security clearance. If you filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 debt consolidation plan as a result of financial problems that were caused by unexpected events such as a divorce or medical emergency, then your bankruptcy will be seen as a responsible thing to do. Also filing the bankruptcy to remove excessive debt is seen as another plus. Furthermore having a large amount of outstanding debts, especially those such as credit card debts, might jeopardize your ability to obtain a security clearance. By filing the bankruptcy you're eliminating your debts and taking a positive step toward resolving your severe financial issues. In turn this makes your candidacy for a security clearance to be much stronger.
A recent article from the Air Force Academy website stated the following “the amount of your unpaid debts by itself may jeopardize your clearance. Even if you don't file bankruptcy, and that sense not filing for bankruptcy may make you more of a security risk, due to the size of your outstanding debts. By the same token using a government approved means of dealing with your debts may actually be viewed as an indication of financial responsibility.” A Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 debt consolidation is a government-approved means of dealing with your debts. Finally if you file for bankruptcy and have a security clearance always be honest with your security officer and notify them of your bankruptcy filing. It is far better to be honest about your financial situation then try to hide it.
Our Montgomery bankruptcy lawyers are willing to discuss your financial issues and your security clearance. All consultations are always free, and we can usually see you within 24 hours. We are conveniently located throughout Central Alabama. We have offices in Montgomery, Greenville, Selma and Troy. Call us to set an appointment at 334-LAWYERS (529-9377). You may also reach us by using the “text us” link or Contact Form on our website. Remember that doing nothing, changes nothing so act today!