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Veterans Preference’ and Special Hiring Authorities Frequently Asked Questions

Applying For Federal Employment

Veterans' Preference

Special Hiring Authorities For Veterans

Special Hiring Authorities For Military Spouses

Applying For Federal Employment

How do I apply for federal employment?

There must be an open vacancy announcement in order for you to apply for a Federal job. Search USAJobs External Web Site Policy for open vacancies at NIH and submit all parts of your application with required paperwork by the closing date of the announcement.

A federal application:

  • Requires applicants to submit a resume; and
  • Often requires completion of an assessment; and
  • May require transcripts, and
  • Requires documentation for military personnel.
All veterans must submit their DD-214. Veterans seeking to be hired with 10-point preference or other special hiring authority that is conditional on disability status must also submit an SF-15 with supporting documentation.

What is a DD-214?

The Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, Department of Defense Form 214, is issued upon a military service member's retirement, separation or discharge from active-duty military.

In order to be considered as a 5-point preference eligible, submit a copy of your DD214 indicating that you have been separated from active duty in the Armed Forces with an honorable or general discharge. You can obtain a copy of your DD form 214 by initiating a Military Service Record Request External Web Site Policy.

What is an SF-15?

The Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference, Standard Form 15 External Web Site Policy External Web Site Policy, is used by Federal agencies to verify a claim for 10 point veterans' preference in accordance with the Veterans' Preference Act of 1994. The SF-15 is also used for preference as a military spouse or mother of a veteran who is deceased or unable to work due to a service connected disability.

Along with your completed SF-15, supporting documentation must be submitted. Page 2 of the SF-15 lists the supporting documentation that is required for each type of preference.

Veterans' Preference

I served in the armed forces. Can I claim veterans' preference when applying for Federal jobs?

Veterans may have either five or ten points added to their passing examination score or rating depending on specific details of their military service and disability status. Not all veterans are considered veterans for the purpose of federal civilian employment under Section 2108 of Title 5, USC External Web Site Policy.

  • Veterans must have received an honorable or general discharge from military service.
  • Veterans with rank higher than O-4 are not eligible for preference, unless they are 1) a disabled veteran or 2) reservists who will not begin drawing military retired pay until age 60.
  • Active duty for training for National Guard or Reserve soldiers does not qualify as “active duty” for preference, unless the veteran is disabled.

What determines eligibility for veterans’ preference?

The general information provided below is not all inclusive. Refer to the Vet Guide External Web Site Policy, which is produced by the Office of Personnel Management, for more complete information.

You may be 5-point preference eligible if you served on active duty during a war (armed conflicts declared by Congress as war) or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized.

You may be 10-point preference eligible if you:

  • Have a present service-connected disability rated at 10% or more; or
  • Are receiving disability compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension; or
  • Received a Purple Heart; or
  • Are the spouse or mother of a veteran who died in service or who is unable to work because of a service-connected disability.

Learn more about veterans’ preference from the Office of Personnel Management in the Vet Guide External Web Site Policy. To ensure that your military service is credited appropriately, submit the required documentation by the closing date of the announcement.

Special Hiring Authorities For Veterans

What are the special hiring authorities available for veterans?

The special hiring authorities available for veterans are:

  • 30% or more Disabled Veteran Appointment Authority
  • Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) Authority
  • Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998 (VEOA)

Learn more about special hiring authorities for veterans from the Office of Personnel Management in the Vet Guide External Web Site Policy. To ensure that your military service is credited appropriately, submit the required documentation by the closing date of the announcement.

What is the 30% or more Disabled Veteran Appointment Authority?

Veterans with a disability rating of 30% or more who meet all qualification requirements may be given a noncompetitive term appointment or temporary appointment of 60 days or more. There is no grade level limitation for this authority. The agency may convert the employee, without a break in service, to a career or career-conditional appointment at any time during the employee's term or temporary appointment.

What is the Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) Authority?

VRA is a special hiring authority by which agencies may appoint eligible veterans without competition to positions at any grade level below General Schedule (GS) 11 or equivalent. Veterans’ preference takes precedence in these appointments. Those eligible for VRA are:

  • Disabled veterans; or
  • Veterans who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during a war, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized; or
  • Veterans who, while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces, participated in a United States military operation for which an Armed Forces Service Medal was awarded; or
  • Recently separated veterans.

What is the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998 (VEOA)?

The VEOA states that agencies must allow eligible veterans to apply to positions announced under merit promotion procedures when the agency is recruiting from outside its own workforce. If selected, the veteran will be given a career or career conditional appointment. Veterans' preference is not a factor in these appointments and there are no demographic area restrictions. Those eligible for VEOA are:

  • Veterans’ preference eligible; or
  • Separated honorably after 3 or more years of continuous active service.

Special Hiring Authorities For Military Spouses

I am a spouse of a service member. Do I qualify for any special hiring authorities?

You may be eligible for 10-point derived preference or for a non-competitive appointment under Executive Order 134743 External Web Site Policy External Web Site Policy if you meet one of these conditions:

  • If you are the spouse of a service member who, in the past two years, has been transferred to a new location through a permanent change of station (PCS), not training; or
  • If you are the spouse of a 100% disabled service member who was injured while on active duty; or
  • If you are the un-remarried widow or widower of a service member who died while on active duty status (does not need to be combat related).

This page last reviewed on April 16, 2014

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