If you’re a veteran of the U.S. military and are looking for a federal or state civil service job, you may be entitled to veterans’ preference (preference points on the civil service exam) in appointments over other applicants, but this preference doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the job. Also, preference points aren’t standardized across all civil service jobs outside the federal government. Depending on the type of job, you may run into different requirements, standards, and regulations on how and when you may claim veterans’ preference when competing for a job.
How veterans’ preference works is confusing and can be a challenge to figure out. We have put together some information that will help you answer your questions on how to navigate the veteran’s preference process.
Do All Veterans Qualify for Veteran’s Preference?
Unfortunately, no. Preference eligibility is based on several factors like dates of active duty service and receipt of a campaign badge, Purple Heart, or a service-connected disability.
How Do I Find Out if I Am Eligible?
If you’re interested in finding out whether you’re eligible for veterans’ preference points for federal jobs, explore the online Veterans’ Preference Advisor. This resource will walk users through a series of questions designed to help determine eligibility for hiring preference points for federal jobs.
State and local hiring practices will vary. If you’re a member of the National Guard or Reserves, you may need additional documentation showing active duty service times and current military commitment.
Do I Qualify if I am Retired Military?
If you are a “retired member of the armed forces,” you’re not eligible unless you are a disabled veteran or retired below the rank of major (O-4) or its equivalent.
What Are Preference Points?
Preference points apply in hiring from civil service examinations for most excepted (other than competitive and Senior Executive Service (SES)) jobs. The preference points are added if you pass the civil service exam.
There are three types of preference eligibility: sole survivorship (0-point preference eligible), non-disabled (5-point preference eligible), and disabled (10-point preference eligible).
0 Point Preference
You are 0-point preference eligible if you received a sole-survivorship discharge after August 29, 2008. No points are added to your passing score, but you’re entitled to be listed ahead of non-preference eligible applications with the same score on an examination.
5 Point Preference
You are 5-point preference eligible if your active duty service meets any of the following:
- 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, or
- In a war, campaign, or expedition for which a campaign medal or badge has been authorized
10 Point Preference
You are 10 point preference eligible if you served at any time, and you:
- have a service-connected disability, or
- received a Purple Heart
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News