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Veterans Preference Points

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Since the time of the Civil War, Veterans of the Armed Forces have been given some degree of preference in appointments to Federal jobs. Recognizing that sacrifices are made by those serving in the Armed Forces, Congress enacted laws to prevent veterans seeking Federal employment from being penalized because of the time spent in military service.

By law, veterans who are disabled or who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during certain specified time periods or in military campaigns are entitled to preference over nonveterans both in hiring from competitive lists of eligibles and in retention during reductions in force.

Preference does not have as its goal the placement of a veteran in every vacant Federal job; this would be incompatible with the merit principle of public employment. Nor does it apply to promotions or other in-service actions. However, preference does provide a uniform method by which special consideration is given to qualified veterans seeking Federal employment.

Preference applies in hiring from civil service examinations, for most excepted service jobs, and when agencies make temporary appointments or use direct hire and delegated examining authorities from the U. S. Office of Personnel Management.

General Requirements for Preference

To be entitled to preference, a veteran must meet the eligibility requirements in section 2108 of title 5, United States Code. This means that:

  • An honorable or general discharge is necessary.

  • Military retirees at the rank of major, lieutenant commander, or higher are not eligible for preference unless they are disabled veterans.

  • Guard and Reserve active duty for training purposes does not qualify for preference.

  • When applying for Federal jobs, eligible veterans should claim preference on their application or resume. Applicants claiming 10-point preference must complete form SF-15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference.

Types of Preference

    5-Point Preference

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

  • During the period December 7, 1941, to July 1, 1955; or

  • For more than 180 consecutive days, 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

  • In a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized, including El Salvador, Grenada, Haiti, Lebanon, Panama, Somalia, Southwest Asia, Bosnia, and the Global War on Terrorism.

  • Medal holders and Gulf War veterans who enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered on active duty on or after October 14, 1982, must have served continuously for 24 months or the full period called or ordered to active duty. The service requirement does not apply to veterans with compensable service-connected disabilities, or to veterans separated for disability in the line of duty, or for hardship.

    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. Individuals who received a Purple Heart qualify as disabled veterans.

  • An unmarried spouse of certain deceased veterans, a spouse of a veteran unable to work because of a service-connected disability, and

  • a mother of a veteran who died in service or who is permanently and totally disabled.

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