Using Veteran’s Preference Points to Your Advantage

Throughout your military service, though you likely were unaware, you were tallying up points. Not regular points, such as the points in basketball or hockey, but Veteran’s Preference Points.

Many veterans have heard of Veteran’s Preference Points, but they often don’t understand the finer points of the program. The Veteran’s Preference Point program gives certain veterans, depending on a number of criteria, an edge on getting a civil service job with the Federal Government.

In accordance with the program, those who are disabled or who served on active duty during certain specified time periods are entitled, by law, to receive preference over non-veterans both in hiring from competitive lists of eligible hires and in retention during reductions in force.

Do you qualify? What does this mean for you?

Civil service examinations are a prerequisite for the 2.6 million federal government employees. If you are in the process of applying for a job and a civil service examination is part of the process, you’re in luck: Veteran’s Preference Points are right for you.

To receive preference, you need to have separated from the military with an honorable or general discharge. From there, veterans can earn points. These points are then added to your civil service examination score, which is used to qualify you for a position.

The goal of preference isn’t to place veterans in every vacant federal job position. Rather, it provides a uniform method to give qualified veterans a hand up in seeking employment.

Five Points

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,  qualifies for preference.

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) must have 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 eligibles 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.

Ten Points

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.

How it Works

If you separated from the military with an honorable or general discharge and achieved a score of 70 or higher, you can have points added to your score.

For scientific and professional positions in grade GS-9 or higher, names of all eligible characters are listed in order of ratings, augmented by veteran preference. For all other positions, the names of 10-point preference candidates who have a service-connected disability of 10 percent or more are placed ahead of the names of all other eligible candidates on a given register. The names of other 10-point preference candidates, 5-point candidates and non-veterans are listed in order of their numerical ratings.

Entitlement to veterans’ preference does not guarantee a job.

Photo courtesy Official US Navy Imagery