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Psychological Conditions and Security Clearances

June 11, 2014

Psychological concerns can be an important factor in the security clearance process.  When federal employees or contractors are facing issues related to a particular psychological condition, either during the security clearance application process or after they obtain a security clearance, it is important for them to obtain legal advice and possible representation in order to provide the best opportunity to obtain or maintain access to classified information.  There are a number of security concerns relating to psychological conditions that can be potentially mitigated if the right evidence is presented.

Psychological Concerns

Guideline I of the Adjudicative Guidelines contained within DoD Directive 5220.6 governs security clearance issues and outlines security concerns about individuals with psychological conditions as follows:

Certain emotional, mental, and personality conditions can impair judgment, reliability, or trustworthiness. A formal diagnosis of a disorder is not required for there to be a concern under Guideline I. A duly qualified mental health professional (e.g., clinical psychologist or psychiatrist) employed by, or acceptable to and approved by the U.S. Government, should be consulted when evaluating potentially disqualifying and mitigating information under Guideline I. No negative inference concerning the standards in Guideline I may be raised solely on the basis of seeking mental health counseling.

Mitigating Psychological Security Concerns

Typically, mitigation will require the assistance of an individual’s medical professionals in order to demonstrate that the psychological condition does not remain a significant security concern.  The following are some of the types of mitigation arguments that can be made in security clearance cases depending on the issues involved.

  1. Evidence which shows that the psychological condition is under control with treatment;
  2. Evidence which shows that the individual has demonstrated ongoing compliance with medical treatment (and consistency);
  3. Evidence which shows that the individual has entered a counseling or other treatment program by qualified medical professionals;
  4. Medical opinions by qualified mental health professionals that show the psychological condition is under control;
  5. Evidence which shows that the psychological condition at issue was temporary in nature and/or no longer remains a current problem; and/or
  6. Evidence from family and friends which demonstrates that an individual has recovered from psychological conditions.

Sample Cases

  1. ISCR Case Number: 07-10169 (May 2010) Applicant was diagnosed with major depression, recurrent, moderate, without psychosis; dysthymic disorder history; panic disorder without agoraphobia; and generalized anxiety disorder.  Clearance was granted because DOHA found that Applicant’s psychological conditions were under control and managed properly by Applicant’s physicians.
  2. ISCR Case Number:  09-02257 (Aug. 2010) Applicant was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, but DOHA granted clearance finding that Applicant’s medications were being properly managed and that the Applicant’s mental health had improved to the point where he was in remission.
  3. ISCR Case Number: 12-00322.h1 (Jan. 2014) Applicant’s diagnosed psychological condition, bi-polar disorder, was not mitigated (and clearance was denied) due to the absence of current evidence from a mental health professional to corroborate his claim that he no longer needed medication or consultation;
  4. ISCR Case Number: 09-00318.h1 (June. 2012) Applicant’s history of non-compliance with medical treatment for diagnosed bi-polar disorder, resulting in judgment difficulties and behavioral problems causing hospitalization, was not mitigated and clearance was denied;
  5. ISCR Case Number. 10-01525 (March 2012) Applicant mitigated the psychological conditions concern under Guideline I, as depression was in remission and no current problems existed.  Applicant had previously suffered from episodes of depression in 2003, 2006, and 2009, but quickly overcame these bouts on his own (two being clearly related to outside stressors, including a divorce after 14 years of marriage.

When an individual is seeking advice regarding a psychological condition as it impacts a security clearance, it is important to obtain legal representation.  Our law firm advises individuals in the security clearance process. We can be contacted at or by telephone at (703) 668-0070.  Please also visit us on Facebook at

If you wish to explore legal representation, please call our office or use this form to inquire about our consultation process.

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