What is Veterans' Preference?
Veterans' Preference is an entitlement to preference in the Federal service based on active military service that terminated honorably. Since the Civil War veterans of the Armed Forces have been given some degree of preference in appointments to Federal jobs.
Entitlement to Veterans' Preference
Five-point preference is given to those honorably separated veterans (this means an honorable or general discharge) who served on active duty (not active duty for training) in the Armed Forces:
- during any war (this means a war declared by Congress, the last of which was World War II);
- during the period April 28, 1952, through July 1, 1955;
- for more than 180 consecutive days, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955, and before October 15, 1976;
- during the Gulf War period beginning August 2, 1990, and ending January 2, 1992; or
- in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized, such as El Salvador, Lebanon, Granada, Panama, Southwest Asia, Somalia, and Haiti.
Medal holders, including the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Gulf War veterans who originally enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered on active duty on or after October 14, 1982, without having previously completed 24 months of continuous active duty, must have served continuously for 24 months or the full period called or ordered to active duty. Effective on October 1, 1980, military retirees at or above the rank of major or equivalent, are not entitled to preference unless they qualify as disabled veterans.
Ten-point preference is given to:
- those honorably separated veterans who: (1) qualify as disabled veterans because they have served on active duty in the Armed Forces at any time and have a present service-connected disability or are receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension from the military or the Department of Veterans Affairs; or (2) are Purple Heart recipients;
- the spouse of a veteran unable to work because of a service-connected disability;
- the unmarried widow of certain deceased veterans; and
- the mother of a veteran who died in service or who is permanently
Entitlement to veterans' preference does not guarantee a job.
When applying for Federal jobs, if you are an eligible veteran, you should indicate the preference on your Application for Federal Employment or resumé. If you are claiming 10-point preference, you must complete form SF-15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference. Applicants claiming 10-point preference on the basis of a disability must include documentation from the military service or Department of Veterans Affairs before 10-point preference will be awarded. Applicants (veterans) who are still in the service may be granted 5 points tentative preference on the basis of information contained in your application. You must produce a DD Form 214, prior to an appointment being made, in order to document your entitlement to preference. You should follow the instructions on the vacancy announcement for submitting documentation relative to veterans’ preference.
Applying Veterans’ Preference
Veterans who are eligible for preference and who meet the minimum qualification requirements of the position, have 5 or 10 points added to their passing score in the rating process. For scientific and professional positions in grades GS-9 or higher, the names of all eligible applicants are listed in order of ratings. The 5 or 10 point preference is added to the veterans' score. For all other positions, the names of 10-point preference eligibles who have a service-connected disability of 10 percent or more are placed ahead of the names of all other eligibles. Other eligibles are then listed in order of their earned ratings, augmented by veterans' preference points. Preference eligibles are listed ahead of a nonpreference eligibles with the same score.
The Rule of 3 applies in making selections from a certificate of eligibles. Managers or selecting officials must select from the top 3 candidates on the certificate and may not pass over a preference eligible in favor of a lower ranking nonpreference eligible without sound reasons that relate directly to the veteran's fitness or qualifications for employment. However, managers or selecting officials may select a lower-ranking preference eligible over a compensably disabled veteran within the Rule of 3.
Special Appointing Authorities for Veterans
There are several different appointing authorities that can be used to appoint veterans to a position within the Agency. These authorities permit the noncompetitive appointment of a veteran to a vacant position within the Agency. They include:
- The Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment (VRA)
- The Veterans’ Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA)
- Disabled Veterans Enrolled in a Veterans Administration Training Program
For a complete description of special appointing authorities for veterans,