How to Keep Your Security Clearance

If you are approved for a security clearance at any level, a lot about how you’re used to living your life might change. Things that you would have preferred to keep as private as possible – such as your divorce or bankruptcy filing – will need to be disclosed to your government employer.

When you need to keep your security clearance, the following traits about you are also always under evaluation:

  • Character
  • Discretion
  • Honesty
  • Judgment
  • Reliability
  • Stability
  • Trustworthiness
  • Unquestionable loyalty to the U.S.

Read below for some basic tips on how you can maintain your security clearance.

Don’t Let It Expire

Your security clearance has an expiration date. It may vary from others, depending upon which part of the government you work for and what level of clearance you have. If you are not diligent about maintaining your security clearance by using it or renewing it when necessary, you may lose it.

Don’t Use Illegal Drugs or Abuse Medication

Drug use and abuse are two major threats to maintaining your security clearance. While many states have decriminalized and even legalized marijuana, it’s still a Schedule I drug, as far as the federal government is concerned. Using marijuana, or any other narcotic, is a clear threat to your security clearance.

When it comes to prescription medication, avoid abusing it. This means you should only use medications prescribed by your doctor and as directed by your doctor. Using prescription medication in any other way, or acquiring it for a purpose other than to treat a medical condition, can also threaten your security clearance.

Keep Your Debt in Check

Your personal finances matter when you have a security clearance. This is because those with debt problems become security threats, as far as the government is concerned. In the eyes of authorities, someone who has an unmanageable amount of debt may not be trustworthy or stable enough to handle access to sensitive information.

While it’s normal for everyone to have some debt from a mortgage, credit cards, child or spousal support, etc., you also need to be as honest and upfront about these as possible. If you misstate how much debt you have or fail to disclose certain debts, the government may consider you unreliable.

Never Lie or Make False Statements

Another way to lose your security clearance, or chance of getting one, is to lie or make false statements of any kind. You’d be surprised what kinds of details about your life might come up on a background check, some of which may be emotionally difficult or embarrassing to talk about. If you don’t answer investigators’ questions as honestly as possible, though, you could fail the investigation and lose your security clearance or chance to obtain it.