Federal Programs for Veterans

FEDERAL PROGRAMS FOR VETERANS

Veterans Preference Improves Access to Federal Jobs
Special Federal Hiring Authorities for Veterans
Other Sources of Employment Assistance

Veterans Preference Improves Access to Federal Jobs

As a veteran, if you are disabled or served on active duty in the Armed Forces during a certain time period or military campaign, you are entitled to preference over others when you apply for Federal civilian positions.

Are you the spouse, widow, or mother of a disabled or deceased veteran? You may be entitled to preference over others in the Federal hiring process.

The Veterans’ Preference Act of 1944 is an earned entitlement for certain military veterans who served their country honorably. As early as the Civil War era, veterans of the Armed Forces have been given preference in appointments to Federal jobs in recognition of their dedicated sacrifice to serving their country, and to help make up for the economic loss many veterans experienced as a result of their military service.

By law, veterans who are disabled or served on active duty in the Armed Forces during a certain time period or military campaign are entitled to preference over others when an agency is hiring from a competitive list of candidates. If you are eligible for this preference, you will have additional points added to your passing score or rating when you apply for Federal civilian positions.

The Hubbard Act of 2008 introduced a new preference eligibility category for service members discharged or released from active duty for the reason of sole survivorship. The act affected sole survivorship discharges or releases that occurred after the law’s enactment date of Aug. 29, 2008. A sole survivorship discharge is one requested by an individual who is the only surviving child in a family whose sibling or parent who served in the armed forces and was killed or permanently injured. The sole survivorship preference category affords a veteran preference entitlement, but does not add points to a passing score when applying for Federal civilian positions.

The VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 required agencies to treat active duty service members the same as veterans, disabled veterans and individuals eligible for preference provided they submit a certification when they apply for a federal job that they expect to be honorably discharged within 120 days.

Preference Categories

The statutory employment requirements associated with veteran’s preference can be found in titles 5 and 38.

0-Point Preference (SSP)

Veteran is the only surviving child in which the father, 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 mission in action status, or is permanently 100 percent disabled or hospitalized on a continuing basis (and is not gainfully employed because of the disability or hospitalization), where
  • The death, status, or disability was not a result of intentional misconduct or willful neglect of the parent or sibling, and was not incurred during a period of unauthorized absence.

5-Point Preference – Eligibility

Five points will be added to your passing examination score or rating if you served:

  • During any war; or
  • During the period of April 28, 1952 through July 1, 1955; or
  • For more than 180 consecutive days, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955, and before October 15, 16; (Note: Active Duty for training does not count); or
  • During the Gulf War from August 2, 1990, through January 2, 1992; or
  • For more than 180 consecutive days 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
  • In a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized. Any Armed Force Expeditionary medal or campaign badge, including El Salvador, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Southwest Asia, Somalia, and Haiti, qualifies for preference.

10-Point Compensable Disability Preference (CP) – Eligibility

Ten points will be added to your passing examination score or rating if you are:

  • A veteran who served at any time and who has a compensable service -connected disability rating of at least 10 percent but less than 30 percent.

10-point 30 Percent Compensable Disability Preference (CPS)

Ten points will be added to your passing examination score or rating if you:

  • Served at any time and have a compensable service-connected disability rating of 30 percent or more.

10-Point Disability Preference (XP)

Ten points will be added to your passing examination score or rating if you are:

  • A veteran who served at any time and has a present service-connected disability or is receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension from the military or the Department of Veterans Affairs but does not qualify as a CP or CPS; or
  • A veteran who received a Purple Heart.

Spouse

If you are the spouse of a disabled veteran who is disqualified for a Federal position along the general lines of his or her usual occupation because of a service connected disability, you are eligible to have 10 points added to your passing examination score or rating. The disabled veteran is presumed disqualified when he/she is unemployed and:

  • Is rated by appropriate military or Department of Veterans Affairs authorities to be 100 percent disabled and/or unemployable; or
  • Has retired, been separated, or resigned from a civil service position on the basis of a disability that is service-connected in origin; or
  • Has attempted to obtain a civil service position or other position along the lines of his or her usual occupation and has failed to qualify because of a service connected disability.

It is possible that preference may be allowed in other circumstances but anything less than the above warrants a more careful analysis.

Widow/Widower

Ten points will be added to your passing examination score or rating if you are the unmarried widow of a veteran who:

  • Served during a war or during the period April 28, 1952, through July 1, 1955.
  • Died while on active duty

Mother of a disabled veteran

Ten points will be added to your passing examination score or rating if you are the mother of a living disabled veteran if the veteran was separated with an honorable discharge and:

  • You are or was married to the father of the veteran; and
  • You live with your totally and permanently disabled husband; or
  • You are widowed, divorced, or separated from the veteran’s father and you have not remarried; or
  • You are remarried but are widowed, divorced, or legally separated from your husband when you claim preference.

Special Federal Hiring Authorities for Veterans

5 U.S.C. 5595; 5 CFR 550.708(c)

Several special authorities are available that provide for noncompetitive appointment of eligible veterans.

It is important to note that use of these special authorities is entirely at an agency’s discretion. While no one is entitled to one of these special appointments, it is important that you know of the existence of these authorities and the options they can provide you as you search for opportunities to be considered for available Federal positions.

Veteran’s Recruitment Authority (VRA)
VRA is a special authority created so that eligible veterans can be appointed to positions in the Federal government without competition. You may be appointed to any grade level in the General Schedule through GS-11 or equivalent if you meet the eligibility criteria. The promotion potential of the position is not a factor. VRA appointees are hired as excepted appointments. There is no limitation to the number of VRA appointments an individual may receive, provided they are eligible. You must be qualified for the position to be filled.

Eligibility Requirements

  • All 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 (within the last 3 years)

*In addition to meeting the criteria above, eligible veterans must have been separated under honorable conditions (i.e., the individual must have received either an honorable or general discharge).*

Veteran’s Employment Opportunity Act of 1998 (VEOA)
The VEOA allows eligible veterans to apply and compete for Federal employment under merit promotion procedures). An agency may determine they will recruit outside its own workforce. “Agency” means the parent agency. For example, Treasury, not the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Defense, not the Department of the Army). So when the Department of the Army decides to recruit outside the defense community, someone who is a VEOA eligible can apply for consideration. A VEOA eligible veteran who is selected will be given a career or career-conditional appointment (permanent). Veterans’ preference is not a consideration when selections are made for these appointments.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Be a preference eligible OR veteran separated after 3 or more years of continuous active service performed under honorable conditions. Veterans who were released shortly before completing a 3-year tour are considered to be eligible.

30 Percent or More Disabled Veterans
Veterans retired from active military service with a 30 percent or more disability or who receive a service connected disability rating of 30 percent or more from the Department of Veterans Affairs, may be appointed non-competitively to a temporary appointment of more than 60 days or to a term appointment. There is no grade level limitation for this authority. Applicants must meet all qualification requirements for the position to be filled including any written test requirement. 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 temporary or term appointment.

Other Special Appointing Authorities

If you strongly desire to work for the Federal government, you must be proactive and begin networking with local agencies, contacting listed resources, and aggressively seeking out all available Federal employment opportunities.

The Federal Government’s hiring options include excepted service special appointing authorities for people with disabilities. Although not developed exclusively for disabled veterans, disabled veterans are eligible to apply if they meet the criteria. Federal employers are authorized to use these authorities when considering certain people with disabilities (those who have severe physical, cognitive, or psychiatric disabilities or who have a history of or who are regarded as having such disabilities). The authorities provide a unique opportunity to demonstrate the potential to successfully perform the essential duties of a position with or without reasonable accommodation in the workplace. Agencies have direct hire authority for the Schedule A appointments presented here.

Schedule A, 5 CFR 213.3102(t) for Hiring People with Mental Retardation.
This authority is used to appoint persons with cognitive disabilities (mental retardation) who meet the eligibility requirements. Upon completion of 2 years of satisfactory performance the employee may qualify for conversion to the competitive service.

Schedule A, 5 CFR 213.3102(u) for Hiring People With Severe Physical Disabilities.
This authority is used to appoint persons with severe physical disabilities who: (1) under a temporary appointment have demonstrated their ability to perform duties satisfactorily; or (2) have been certified by a counselor from a State vocational rehabilitation agency (SVRA) or the Department of Veterans Affair’s Vocational Rehabilitation Office as likely to succeed in performance of duties. Upon completion of two years of satisfactory service under this authority, the employee may qualify for conversion to the competitive service.

Schedule B, 5 CFR 213.3202(k) for Hiring People Who Have Recovered from Mental Illness.
This authority permits appointments at Grades GS-15 and below when filled by individuals who: (1) are placed at a severe disadvantage in obtaining employment because of a psychiatric disability evidenced by hospitalization or outpatient treatment and have had a significant period of substantially disrupted employment because of the disability; and (2) are certified to a specific position by a State vocational rehabilitation counselor or a Department of Veterans Affairs counseling psychologist (or psychiatrist) who indicates that they meet the severe disadvantage criteria stated above, that they are capable of functioning in the position to which they will be appointed, and that any residual disability is not job related. Employment under this authority may not exceed two years following each significant period of mental illness.

In addition, once you’re hired, your agency can use the following hiring authority to provide assistance should your disability warrant it:

Schedule A, 5 CFR 213.3102(ll) for Hiring Readers, Interpreters, and Other Personal Assistants.
This authority is used to appoint persons with cognitive disabilities (mental retardation) who meet the eligibility requirements. Upon completion of 2 years of satisfactory performance the employee may qualify for conversion to the competitive service.

Filing Applications After the Announcement Closes

As a 10-point preference eligible, you can file an application at any time for any position for which:

  • A permanent appointment has been made in the preceding 3 years;
  • A list of individuals eligible to be selected to the position currently exists that is closed to new applications; or
  • A list is about to be established.

You should contact the agency that announced the position for further information.

Pathways

President Obama has established a program that provides new avenues for students and recent graduates to enter the federal workplace.

The Pathways Program kicked off on July 10, 2012 consolidating a number of government internship programs into a single system for recruiting, training and retaining students and recent graduates who are well-qualified candidates for federal employment.  The Pathways Program was created for several reasons, including 1) providing alternate paths for recruiting recent college and trade-school graduates (including military veteran students) to the federal workforce; 2)offering meaningful training, mentoring, and career-development opportunities for students, recent graduates, and student veterans; and 3)replacing student internship programs that were found to violate federal veterans’ preference laws.  Veterans’ preference applies to all Pathways Programs job opportunities.  If you qualify for veterans’ preference, be sure to include your DD-214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty and, if applicable, SF 15, Application for 10-Point Veterans’ Preference, with your application.

The Pathways Program is composed of three parts: an Internship Program, a Recent Graduates Program and the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program. The first two programs are brand new, while the PMF Program is being modified.  As a student or a recent graduate, the program best suited for you depends on where you are in your academic studies.

The Internship Program is a new program for students who are currently enrolled in high school, home school, trade school, college or other qualifying educational institutions. It provides a path for students to explore the work of the federal government and get paid while they are still in school. The Internship Program replaces the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

The Recent Graduates Program provides a new path to a potential career in the civil service for individuals who have graduated in the past two years from a qualifying educational institution with an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, professional, doctorate, vocational or technical degree or certificate. Military veterans may apply up to six years after receiving their degree or certificate if they have been prevented from doing so because of a military service obligation.

For more than 30 years, the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program has been the federal government’s premier leadership development program for advanced (masters or professional) degree candidates. PMF applicants who have received a qualifying advanced degree within the two preceding years can apply to the PMF program.

Positions in the Pathways Programs are excepted from the competitive service. Participants in these Programs are appointed under the newly created Schedule D of the excepted service.

Other Sources of Employment Assistance

The Department of Labor (DOL) serves transitioning service members, veterans, and their families through their current programs, such as Workforce Investment Act (WIA), Wagner-Peyser Employment Service (WP), the Jobs for Veterans State Grant (JVSG) programs, and Transition Assistance Program Employment Workshops.

They also offer new initiatives, such as the Gold Card Initiative and online national electronic tools, such as My Next Move for Veterans and the CareerOneStop Veterans ReEmployment Portal. DOL-funded employment and training programs served 1.6 million veterans from July 2011 to June 2012.

Veterans and other covered persons receive priority of service for all employment and training programs funded directly, in whole or in part, by the Department of Labor, as provided in 20 CFR Part 1010.1. These include many of the programs operated by the more than 2,500 American Job Centers (AJC) known as One-Stop Career Centers, nationwide that serve as the cornerstones for the nation’s workforce investment system.

In many cases, programs and services offered serve only those veterans and eligible spouses most in need of intensive services. If you believe you are in need of these services, go here and insert the requested information to locate the AJC nearest you.

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