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Content provided by the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
17.806 Veteran's Preference in Federal Employment




Veterans Preference Act of 1944, Public Laws 78-359, 93-508, 94-502, 95-520, 95-454, 97-72, 97-306, 98-543, 99-576, 101-237, 102-16, 102-568, 105-339, and 106-117; Executive Order 11521, March 26, 1970.
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To provide assistance to preference eligible individuals who believe that their rights under veterans' preference statutes and regulations have been violated. Recognizing their sacrifice, Congress enacted laws to prevent veterans seeking Federal employment from being penalized for their time in military service. Veterans' preference recognizes the economic loss suffered by citizens who have served their country in uniform, restores veterans to a favorable competitive position for Government employment, and acknowledges the larger obligation owed to disabled veterans. Veterans' preference is not so much a reward for being in uniform as it is a way to help make up for the economic loss suffered by those who answered the nation's call to arms. Historically, preference has been reserved by Congress for those who were either disabled or who served in combat areas. Eligible veterans receive many advantages in Federal employment, including preference for initial employment and a higher retention standing in the event of layoffs. However, the veterans' preference laws do not guarantee the veteran a job, nor do they give veterans' preference in internal agency actions such as promotion, transfer, reassignment, and reinstatement. By law, veterans who are disabled or who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during certain specified time periods or in military campaigns are entitled to preference over others in hiring from competitive lists of eligibles and also in retention during reductions-in-force. Preference applies in hiring for virtually all Federal jobs, whether in the competitive or excepted service. In addition to receiving preference in competitive appointments, veterans may be considered for special noncompetitive appointments for which only they are eligible.


Federal Employment.
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To assist persons who perform service in the uniformed services to secure Federal employment and to ensure a higher retention standing in the event of a reduction-in-force. To provide information and assistance to veterans, employers, labor organizations, and other elements of the community concerned with veterans' preference in Federal employment and retention. The Department of Labor - Veterans' Employment and Training Service investigates complaints with the goal of voluntary resolution of veterans' preference problems. Unresolved complaints can be pursued by the complainant veteran to the Merit Systems Protection Board.


Applicant Eligibility:   (1) Five-point preference is given to those honorably separated veterans (this means an honorable or general discharge) who served on active duty (not active duty for training) in the Armed Forces: During any war (this means a war declared by Congress, the last of which was World War II); during the period April 28, 1952, through July 1, 1955; for more than 180 consecutive days, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955, and before October 15, 1976; during the Gulf War period beginning August 2, 1990, and ending January 2, 1992; or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized, such as El Salvador, Lebanon, Granada, Panama, Southwest Asia, Somalia, and Haiti. Medal holders and Gulf War veterans who originally enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered on active duty on or after October 14, 1982, without having 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. Effective on October 1, 1980, military retirees at or above the rank of major or equivalent, are not entitled to preference unless they qualify as disabled veterans. Ten-point preference is given to those honorably separated veterans who: (1) Qualify as disabled veterans because they have served on active duty in the Armed Forces at any time and have a present service-connected disability or are receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension from the military or the Department of Veterans Affairs; or (2) are Purple Heart recipients; the spouse of a veteran unable to work because of a service-connected disability; the unmarried widow of certain deceased veterans; and the mother of a veteran who died in service or who is permanently and totally disabled. When applying for Federal jobs, eligible veterans should claim preference on their application or resume. Applicants claiming 10-point preference must complete form SF- 15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference. Veterans who are still in the service may be granted 5 points tentative preference on the basis of information contained in their applications, but they must produce a DD Form 214 prior to appointment to document entitlement to preference. Note: Reservists who are retired from the Reserves but are not receiving retired pay are not considered "retired military" for purposes of veterans' preference. (2) Veterans who have been separated from the armed forces under honorable conditions shortly before completion of 3 years, or completion of 3 years or more of active duty military service are eligible to compete for vacant Federal positions for which the agency making the announcement will accept applications from individuals outside its own workforce under merit promotion procedures. This does not make them preference eligible, but allows access to certain Federal job openings for which they would otherwise not be entitled to apply. (3) Public Law 94-502 authorizes Federal agencies to provide unpaid training or work experience, as a part of the Department of Veterans Affairs vocational rehabilitation for a disabled veteran. Such training may be designed to provide noncompetitive appointment.

Beneficiary Eligibility:   Non-disabled veterans, disabled veterans and certain wives or husbands, widows, widowers, and mothers of veterans.

Credentials/Documentation:   For veterans' preference, general proof of honorable separation such as discharge certificate or DD Form 214. In addition, for 10-point preference, a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs or military department certifying existence of service-connected disability. When the 10-point preference is based on the award of a Purple Heart, official documentation of the award is sufficient.

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Pre-application Coordination:   This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

Application Procedure:   Application forms are available from Service Centers of the Office of Personnel Management and from Federal agency personnel offices. Veterans eligible for noncompetitive appointment should make personal contact with the Federal agency where they would like to be considered for employment. Veterans who believe that they have not been properly accorded their rights have several different avenues of complaint, depending upon the nature of the complaint and the individual's veteran status: The Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998 allows preference eligible to file a complaint with the Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) when the person believes an agency has violated his or her rights under any statute or regulation relating to veterans' preference. Eligible veterans seeking employment who believe that an agency has not properly accorded them their veterans' preference, or failed to provide special placement consideration noted above, may file a complaint with the local Department of Labor VETS representative (located at State employment service offices). To be eligible to file a complaint a veteran must: Have served on active duty for more than 180 days and have other than a dishonorable discharge; have a service-connected disability; or served on active duty during a period of war, or received a campaign badge or expeditionary medal (e.g., the Southwest Asia Service Medal). The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) prohibits discrimination in employment, retention, promotion, or any benefit of employment on the basis of a person's service in the uniformed services. Complaints under this law should also be filed with the local Department of Labor VETS representative (located at State employment service offices). Since a willful violation of a provision of law or regulation pertaining to veterans' preference is a Prohibited Personnel Practice, a preference eligible who believes his or her veterans' preference rights have been violated may file a complaint with the local department of Labor VETS representative, as noted above. A disabled veteran who believes he or she has been discriminated against in employment because of his or her disability may file a handicapped discrimination complaint with the offending agency under regulations administered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Award Procedure:   None.

Deadlines:   Under Public Law 95-454, retired members of the armed forces will no longer be considered preference eligible as of October 1, 1980, unless they are disabled veterans or retired below the rank of Major or the equivalent. Under Public Law 97-306, enacted October 14, 1982, a 2-year minimum active duty service condition for those entering military service after September 7, 1980, or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty, must be met, unless they are disabled veterans.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time:   Not applicable.

Appeals:   Not applicable.

Renewals:   Not applicable.


Formula and Matching Requirements:   Not applicable.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance:   Not applicable.


Reports:   Not applicable.

Audits:   Not applicable.

Records:   Not applicable.


Account Identification:   16-0164-0-1-702.

Obligations:   Obligations are devoted to administration, and are not separately identifiable.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance:   Not applicable.

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During Fiscal Year 2001, VETS processed 274 veterans preference cases: 252 cases dealt with the issue of hiring and 22 cases dealt with the issue of reduction in force, 96 percent of these cases were closed within 90 days.


The Veterans' Employment Opportunities Act of 1998 is available free of charge from USDOL-VETS offices listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog. The Department of Labor's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy and Veterans' Employment and Training Service developed an "expert system" to help veterans receive the preferences to which they are entitled. Two versions of this system are currently available, both of which help the veterans determine the type of preference to which they are entitled, the benefits associated with the preference and the steps necessary to file a complaint due to the failure of a Federal Agency to provide those benefits. To find out whether you qualify for veterans' preference, visit the Department of Labor (DOL). The Internet address for the veterans' preference program is: preference/main.htm "Veteran Preference," EL-3 (8/95); "Special Appointing Authorities for Veterans," EL-4 (8/95); "Medical Disqualification of Preference Eligible," EL-8 (8/95); "Job Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities", EL-11 (8/95) (for use by Disabled Veterans); Regulations: 5 CFR 211, 5 CFR 213, 5 CFR 307 and 5 CFR 720.


Regional or Local Office:   See Regional Agency Offices. Contact the nearest Department of Labor, Veterans' Employment and Training Service office listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Headquarters Office:   Kenan Torrans 200 Constitution Ave., NW Room S-1325, Washington, District of Columbia 20210 Email: Phone: (202) 693-4731 Fax: 202-693-4755

Web Site Address:


Not applicable.


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