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About Veteran’s Preferential Hiring Practices


Veterans have made incredible sacrifices for the well-being of their country. If they choose to leave the military and desire a second career in the civil service, a federal job, they have earned the benefit of two key tools that may give them an edge in obtaining the job they desire. These tools are Veterans Preference Points and Veteran’s Recruitment Appointment.

These preferential hiring treatments do not guarantee employment, nor are they enacted specifically in order to place a veteran in every federal job vacancy. They do, however, provide a standardized methodology for qualified veterans who seek federal jobs to receive special consideration due to their previous military service.

By law, disabled veterans or those veterans who were on active duty during specified time periods or specific campaigns are entitled to receive hiring preference over non-veterans. They are eligible to receive this preference in a couple of ways: they are eligible to receive preference in competitive hiring situations and also in retention during reductions in workforce.

Veterans’ Preference rules apply toward civil service examination scoring, toward agency temporary appointments, for most excepted service jobs, and when agencies use direct hire and delegated examining authorities from the U. S. Office of Personnel Management.

General Eligibility Requirements for Veterans’ Preference:

  • Veterans must meet eligibility requirements as outlined in United States Code Title 5, section 2108, in order to be entitled to receive preference. This means:
  • You must have been honorably discharged.
  • Retirees who have the rank of major, lieutenant commander, or higher are not eligible for preference unless they are disabled.
  • Guard and Reserve active duty for training purposes does not qualify.

If eligible, veterans should claim either 5-point or 10-point preference on their application or on their resume when applying for a federal job.

About 5-Point Preference

Five points are added to the passing examination score or rating of a veteran who served:

  • During a war; OR
  • During the period April 28, 1952 through July 1, 1955; OR
  • For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955, and before October 15, 1976; OR
  • During the Gulf War from August 2, 1990, through January 2, 1992; OR
  • For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred during the period beginning September 11, 2001, and ending on the date prescribed by Presidential proclamation or by law as the last day of Operation Iraqi Freedom; OR
  • In a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized. Any Armed Forces Expeditionary medal or campaign badge, including El Salvador, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Southwest Asia, Somalia, and Haiti; OR
  • A campaign medal holder or Gulf War veteran who originally enlisted after September 7, 1980, (or began active duty on or after October 14, 1982, and has not previously completed 24 months of continuous active duty) and who has served continuously for 24 months or the full period called or ordered to active duty.

The 24-month service requirement does not apply to 10-point preference eligible veterans who were separated for disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, or to veterans separated for hardship or other reasons under 10 U.S.C. 1171 or 1173.

About 10-Point Preference

Ten points are added to the passing examination score of:

  • A veteran who served any time and who (1) has a present service- connected disability or (2) is receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension from the military or the Department of Veterans Affairs. Note that veterans who received a Purple Heart qualify as disabled veterans.
  • An unmarried spouse of certain deceased veterans, a spouse of a veteran who is unable to work as a result of a service-connected disability, and
  • A mother of a veteran who died in service OR who is permanently and totally disabled.

Veteran applicants who wish to claim 10-point preference must complete form SF-15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference.

The Way it Works:

Most of the hiring procedures managed by the Office of Personnel Management involve assigning a numerical rating to each candidate. These ratings are one of the ways candidates are screened and evaluated for federal positions.

If you are a veteran who meets preference eligibility criteria and scores 70 or higher either by a written examination or an evaluation of your experience and education, you will have either 5 or 10 points added to your rating score.

For grade GS-9 or higher scientific and professional positions, the names of all eligible candidates are listed in order of rating. Your place on the list may be boosted by any veteran preference points for which you qualify.

For all other positions, the names of those veterans who are 10-point preference eligible and who have a compensable, service-connected disability of 10 percent or more are placed ahead of the names of all other eligible candidates. The names of other 10-point preference eligible veterans, 5-point preference eligible veterans, and non-veterans are listed below disabled veterans in order of their numerical ratings.

One other benefit to qualifying for 10-point preference eligibility is that you may file an application at any time for any position for which a non-temporary appointment has been made from a competitive list of eligible candidates within the last three years, even if examinations have already closed. Also, if an active duty service member is unable to file for an open competitive exam due to service conflicts, they may file after the closing date. In either of these situations, the veteran/service member should contact the hiring agency that announced the position directly.

There are certain examinations for positions that are only open to veterans preference eligible candidates as long as such applicants are available: Custodian, guard, elevator operator and messenger are some of these positions.

About Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA)

The Veterans Recruitment Appointment is a preferential practice that enables veterans to be appointed to an open federal position through GS-11 without having to compete with other applicants. To qualify for the VRA, you must be a disabled veteran who served on active duty during a war or major campaign and exited the service under honorable conditions within three years.

Again, qualifying for veterans’ preference is extremely beneficial, but it does not in and of itself guarantee a job.

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