Why Was My Military Security Clearance Denied?

Whether you work with equipment that requires clearance for operation or your job involves interaction with sensitive data at a protected facility, as a military service member you’ll need security clearance. That means submitting to an extensive background check and investigation that covers your life over a 10-year timespan – a process that can take up to 120 days to complete.

What happens if you are rejected during this process? Or, worse, if you are denied outright? We explore these situations in detail below.

Application Rejection

First, it’s important to recognize that rejection is different from denial. This is a good thing for you, as it means you likely still have the ability to remedy the situation.

When problems are identified with the application itself, it can result in a halt of the investigation process. When this happens, your application will be returned to you. Typically, this occurs when certain procedural rules are not followed properly. It does not have to do with anything found in your background check, which, again, is a good thing for you.

If your security clearance package is rejected for any of the following reasons, you will need to rectify and resubmit:

  • Discrepancies in birth information and/or other information
  • Insufficient explanation of drug use
  • Improper formatting and/or illegible
  • Missing or incomplete information, e.g. employment history, family information, Social Security numbers of spouses, employment and/or education references, debt and/or bankruptcy history, etc.
  • Missing Selective Service registration details
  • No personal references
  • Problems with your certification or release forms, e.g. illegible, wrong formatting, missing altogether

While most of these issues are easy fixes, it never hurts to have a professional, like ours at Claery & Hammond, LLP, review your application and the reasons for rejection. Doing so can help you prepare a solid application that does not run the same risks of being rejected.

Security Clearance Denial

Generally speaking, your security clearance will not be denied for a singular reason. Rather, a list of criteria will be reviewed to assess the applicant as a “whole” person. Those whose characteristics reflect strong moral standing and trustworthiness, based on the reviewed criteria, are more likely to be granted security clearance. This means that one “screw up” likely won’t cost you your clearance. However, it also means that multiple aspects of your life may need to be altered / cleaned up in order to gain clearance in the future.

Reasons for security clearance denial include but are not limited to:

  • Alcohol use
  • Allegiance to a foreign influence
  • Criminal conduct
  • Drug use, or other drug involvement
  • Financial reasons
  • Foreign preference
  • Handling protected information
  • Personal conduct
  • Sexual behaviors
  • Use of IT systems

Typically, financial concerns are among the top reasons for denial of military security clearance, followed by personal conduct. However, it’s important to remember what we mentioned above: It’s unlikely that you will be denied for a singular reason. Denials most often result from the existence of co-occurring issues. For example, your drug habits (reason #1) led to criminal conduct (reason #2) and have resulted in massive credit card debt (reason #3). Or, your lifestyle involves questionable sexual behavior (reason #1) and excess alcohol use (reason #2), both of which you have habitually lied about (reason #3).

No Security Clearance = No Job

If your security clearance is denied, it doesn’t matter how qualified you are for the job. You’re not going to get it. This could potentially influence your career trajectory, so it’s not something to take lightly. The faster you act to effectively mitigate – if not entirely eliminate – the disqualifiers that cost you clearance in the first place, the better. That’s where we come in.

Backed by more than three decades of experience working in security clearance law, we know how to properly prepare applications and appeal denials.

Give us a call at (877) 362-3176. Your first consultation is free.