Veterans' preference applies to all new appointments in the competitive service and many in the excepted service. Veterans' preference does not guarantee veterans a job and it does not apply to internal agency actions such as promotions, transfers, reassignments and reinstatements.
Veterans' preference is very specific. In accordance with title 5, U. S. Code, Section 2108 (5 USC 2108), veterans' preference eligibility is based on dates of active duty service, receipt of a campaign badge, Purple Heart, or a service-connected disability. Not all veterans meet the definition of "veteran" used for the purpose of federal civilian employment, and not all active duty service qualifies for veterans' preference.
In addition, only veterans discharged or released from active duty in the armed forces under an honorable or general discharge are eligible for veterans' preference. Military retirees at the rank of O4 (Major/Lieutenant Commander) or higher are not eligible for preference in appointment unless they are disabled veterans.
There are basically three types of preference eligibles: sole survivorship (0-point preference eligible), non-disabled (5-point preference eligible) and disabled (10-point preference eligible).
You are a 0-point Preference eligible - if you were released or discharged from a period of active duty from the armed forces, after August 29, 2008, by reason of being the only surviving child in a family in which the father or mother or one or more siblings 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.
You are a 5-point preference eligible if you served:
- 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 August 31, 2010, the last day of Operation Iraqi Freedom, or
- During the Gulf War, between August 2, 1990 and January 2, 1992, 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
- Between April 28, 1952 and July 1, 1955
- In a war, campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized.
You are a 10-point preference eligible if you served at any time, and you:
- Have a service connected disability, or
- Received a Purple Heart.
Now that we have discussed your preference eligibility and the associated points, let's discuss preference groups. Preference eligibles are divided into five basic groups:
- CPS - Disability rating of 30% or more (10 points)
- CP - Disability rating of at least 10% but less than 30% (10 points)
- XP - Disability rating less than 10% (10 points)
- TP - Preference eligibles with no disability rating (5 points)
- SSP - Sole Survivorship Preference (0 points)
Note: Disabled Veterans receive 10 points regardless of their disability rating.
You must provide acceptable documentation of your preference or appointment eligibility. Acceptable documentation may be:
- The member 4 copy of your DD214, "Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty," (this is preferable).
- A "certification" that is a written document from the armed forces that certifies the service member is expected to be discharged or released from active duty service in the armed forces under honorable conditions not later than 120 days after the date the certification is signed.
If claiming 10-point preference, you will need to submit a Standard Form (SF-15) "Application for 10-point Veterans' Preference."
Rating and ranking applicants
In the competitive service, when agencies use a numerical rating and ranking system to determine the best qualified applicants for a position, an additional 5 or 10 points are added to the numerical score of qualified preference eligible Veterans.
When an agency does not wish to use a numerical rating system for a competitive service hiring process, it may use category rating. Although veterans' preference applies under category rating, preference eligibles do not get additional points added to their score.
Under category rating, candidates are placed in broader quality categories such as "Highest-Qualified," "Well-Qualified" and "Qualified." Preference eligibles who have a compensable service-connected disability of 10 percent or more (CPS, CP) are placed at the top of the highest category on the referral list (except for scientific or professional positions at the GS-9 level or higher). XP and TP preference eligibles are placed above non-preference eligibles within their assigned category.
To determine candidates' placement in a quality category, qualified applicants are still evaluated and relatively ranked based on the competencies identified for the position through a job analysis. The rating method takes into account their relative possession of job-related experience, education, training, special projects or accomplishments and other job-related behavioral evidence. Based on this assessment, candidates are placed into one of two or more quality categories that are defined by the agency.
Selection must be made from the highest quality category in which three or more candidates exist. Within a quality category, a veterans' preference eligible cannot be passed over to select a non-preference eligible unless an objection is sustained. If there are fewer than 3 candidates in the highest category, the selecting official may ask to combine it with the next lower category. In this case, any preference eligibles in the lower category would move to the top of the combined category.
Note that category-based rating procedures still preserve and protect the rights of veterans when filling jobs through open competitive examining methods (all U.S. citizens may apply) by incorporating rules for giving them significant special priority in referral and selection as described above.