Our third and final article about veterans’ preference is about “points” and how they work in federal hiring. As discussed in earlier articles, veterans’ preference is applicable in hiring, not for internal promotions, reassignments, and other personnel actions regarding existing federal employees. Veterans preference points apply only in announcements that are open to all citizens / all sources / delegated examining. Veterans’ preference points do not count for postings that are open to status applicants, even if the applicant is applying under VEOA.
Veterans’ preference can be confusing. Veterans’ preference eligibility is based on dates of active duty service, receipt of a campaign badge, Purple Heart, or a service-connected disability. Please know that not all active duty service may qualify for veterans’ preference.
Only veterans discharged or released from active duty in the armed forces under honorable conditions are eligible for veterans’ preference. This means you must have been discharged under an honorable or general discharge.
If you are a “retired member of the armed forces” you are not included in the definition of preference eligible unless you are a disabled veteran OR you retired below the rank of major or its equivalent.
There are basically three types of preference eligibles, disabled (10-point preference eligible), non-disabled (5-point preference eligible) and sole survivorship preference (0 point preference eligible).
You are a 0-point Preference eligible – no points are added to the passing score or rating of a veteran who is the only surviving child in a family in which the father or mother or one or more siblings:
1. Served in the armed forces, and
2. 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
3. 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 your active duty service meets any of the following:
1. 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
2. Between August 2, 1990 and January 2, 1992, OR
3. For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955 and before October 15, 1976.
4. In a war, campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized or between April 28, 1952 and July 1, 1955.
You are a 10-point preference eligible if you served at any time, and you:
1. have a service connected disability, OR
2. received a Purple Heart.
Most agencies use what is called Category Rating for all citizens’ announcements; in essence, this means that applicants are assigned to one of (typically) three categories: best qualified, well qualified, and qualified. Another way to think about the categories is gold, silver, bronze. In category rating, points are not added to an applicant’s score; instead veterans who meet basic qualifications for a given job posting are assigned to a category.
Preference eligibles are divided into five basic groups as follows:
- 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 – Preference eligibles with no disability rating (0 points)
Disabled veterans receive 10 points regardless of their disability rating. There is no “extra credit” for a disability rating in excess of 30%.
Preference eligibles who have a compensable service-connected disability of 10% 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, TP, and SSP preference eligibles are placed above non-preference eligibles within their assigned category. For positions at the grade 9 and above which require education, veterans appear at the top of the category for which they are rated. For example, for a position in the Accounting job series which requires 24 hours of accounting, a 30% compensably rated applicant could be placed in the gold, silver, or bronze category, depending upon their qualifications; in a job series which does not require education, that same applicant would automatically be assigned to the gold category (assuming that they meet basic qualifications).
Veterans’ preference is complicated and more nuanced than I have been able to present in these 3 articles. There are some veterans who do not get points, and others who can use veterans’ preference in multiple ways. A good source of information about veterans’ hiring in the federal government is Feds Hire Vets, which bills itself as the One Stop Resource for Federal Veteran Employment Information. https://www.fedshirevets.gov/.
And, if you are still not sure of your preference eligibility, the Department of Labor has a useful decision tree which can be found: http://webapps.dol.gov/elaws/vets/vetpref/mservice.htm.