Legal Insider: How can a medical professional help me with security clearance?

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

Depending upon the security concerns involved, it can be extremely helpful when federal employees or government contractors facing security clearance issues have support from a medical professional. In security clearance matters, it’s usually very beneficial and important for our federal employee and contractor clients to consult with a medical professional if appropriate and when medical or medical-related security concerns are under review by clearance authorities.

Types of Security Concerns that Could Involve Medical Professionals

Depending upon the facts of the security clearance case, there are a variety of security concerns for which a seasoned medical professional may be helpful to a security clearance applicant or holder. One of the most common types of security clearance cases in which a medical professional may be helpful involves the psychological or mental health condition of the security clearance applicant or holder under Guideline I, Psychological Conditions, under SEAD 4 (Page 19). Medical professionals may also be of assistance when a security clearance applicant or holder has security concerns involving illegal prescription drug use and/or an alcohol-related traffic matter.

Use of Medical Professionals in Security Clearance Matters

When an individual’s security clearance is at issue, it can be very helpful to obtain a medical professional’s review of the underlying issues for use in mitigating the security concern. When such situations arise, the clearance authority will ask whether there are mitigating factors present regarding the security concerns at issue. Clearance authorities will often take reasoned medical opinions into account when considering whether or not to permit an individual to obtain or retain his or her security clearance. When this occurs, it can be important to have a medical professional’s opinion, especially if a regular physician is not available to meet with the individual to attempt to mitigate the security concerns at issue.

The following examples more clearly demonstrate when a medical professional can be of help to a security clearance applicant or holder:

Example 1: The clearance holder has had three arrests for driving while intoxicated over the past five years. In this situation, it is important to have a medical professional evaluate, counsel and respond to the types of security concerns involved. The medical professional can often outline all of the treatment options available to the clearance holder and analyze the efforts undertaken by the clearance holder to address any alcohol-related concerns or treatment. A seasoned medical professional can also render a medical opinion as to whether or not such issues are likely to reoccur and the best way the clearance holder can avoid such issues in the future.

Example 2: The clearance holder has a significant mental health disorder, and a clearance authority needs to determine whether the medical condition would affect the individual’s ability to hold access to classified information. In this situation, it is important and helpful if a medical professional can provide a reasoned medical opinion as to whether the mental health condition will be an impediment to retaining a security clearance. The medical professional can evaluate the individual’s medical history, treatment undertaken for the medical issues and issue an opinion as to how the medical condition will likely affect the clearance holder in the future.

Additional Thoughts and Reference on the Use of Medical Professionals

Medical professionals are often asked to complete security clearance forms for clearance applicants and holders. They are also often asked to meet with clearance investigators and discuss the individual’s medical condition. In many security clearance cases, medical professionals also provide detailed medical evaluations and even testify during security clearance administrative hearings. The effective use of a medical professional in appropriate cases can significantly impact whether or not the individual retains, is granted or loses his or her security clearance.

Our law firm represents and advises employees on security clearance matters nationwide. If you need legal assistance, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation.

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