Veterans’ Preference can place veterans higher on a list of applicants when applying for a federal government job in the competitive or excepted service. The Veterans Employment Opportunities Act allows certain veterans to get preferential hiring treatment in the form of additional points. However, the point advantage does not apply to internal staffing actions, such as promotions, transfers, reassignments or reinstatements once working for a federal government agency. Points apply only on the initial hire. To qualify, veterans under the rank of O4 (Major or equivalent) must be discharged under honorable conditions, meaning they have an Honorable or General Discharge.

To know if you qualify for Veterans’ Preference or not, use the Department of Labor’s Veteran’s Preference Advisor online tool. It does not require registration and because of that, all answers are held anonymously.

Basic eligibility for Veterans’ Preference depends on:

  • Dates of military service
  • A campaign badge
  • A Purple Heart award
  • A service-connected disability

If the federal government agency hiring does not use a numerical point system, veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 10% or more are placed at the top of the organization’s referral list.

Veterans’ Preference Point Categories

The number of points awarded under the Veterans’ Preference Program depends on which point category the veterans falls into. There are three broad categories, some with preference groups within each category:

  • Sole Survivorship – SSP – 0 points
  • Non-disabled – TP – 5 points
  • Disabled – XP (disability rating less than 10%), CP (disability rating of at least 10%, but less than 30%), CPS (disability rating of 30% or more) – 10 points

Understanding Each Point Category

Category eligibility is very specific. Points awarded are based on the qualifying factors under each point category:

Zero Points – SSP

  • Parent served in the armed forces, and
  • Was killed, died as a result of wounds, accident, or disease, is in a captured or missing-in-action status, or is permanently 100 percent disabled or hospitalized on a continuing basis (and is not employed gainfully because of the disability or hospitalization), where
  • The death, status, or disability did not result from the intentional misconduct or willful neglect of the parent or sibling and was not incurred during a period of unauthorized absence.

Five Points – TP

Eligible veterans, not having a service-connected disability, qualify for five points if they served:

  • Honorably for more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, of which any part occurred during the period beginning September 11, 2001, and ending on August 31, 2010, the last day of Operation Iraqi Freedom, OR
  • Between August 2, 1990 and January 2, 1992, OR
  • For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, of which any part occurred after January 31, 1955 and before October 15, 1976.
  • In a war, campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized or between April 28, 1952 and July 1, 1955.

10 Points – XP, CP, CPS

Veterans qualify for ten points regardless of their period of service if they:

  • Have a service connected disability, OR
  • Received a Purple Heart.

For any point category, proof of eligibility must be established by providing a copy of DD-214 that shows qualifying discharge and dates of service during at least one of the authorized periods. If claiming 10-point eligibility, a copy of SF-15, Application for 10-Point Veterans’ Preference must also accompany the DD-214. Usually a federal job opening that uses Veterans’ Preference will state so in the job vacancy posting.

The next article in our Working for the Federal Government series will be on tips how to apply for a federal government job.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.