A long, long time ago, I was in a Fed Gov’t position for a couple years. It was a non-sensitive, low-risk position and I’m pretty sure I had to fill out the SF-85. Does that mean I had a security clearance when I worked there, or was it just a background investigation?
No. You never had a clearance, nor a true background investigation.
SF85 is Tier 1 investigation type, meaning you are being examined through the National Agency Check, with Inquiries (checks fingerprints for relations to rap sheet, criminal history, etc.) for suitability and fitness to access a government building, and with limited access to government information systems like computers and related software.
SF85/Tier 1 , Low Risk, Non-Sensitive is the lowest classification in the personnel investigations categories, and the minimum required for any federal employment with low risk and for any volunteer work with the federal government.