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Veterans Preference’ and Special Hiring Authorities Frequently Asked Questions

Applying For Federal Employment

Veterans' Preference

Special Hiring Authorities For Veterans

Special Hiring Authorities For Military Spouses

Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015

An employee hired on or after November 5, 2016, who is a veteran with a service-connected disability rating of 30 percent or more from the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) of the Department of Veterans Affairs is entitled to up to 104 hours of disabled veteran leave for the purposes of undergoing medical treatment for such disability. External Web Site Policy

Applying For Federal Employment

How do I apply for federal employment?

There must be an open vacancy announcement in order for you to apply for a Federal job. Search USAJobs External Web Site Policy for open vacancies at NIH and submit all parts of your application with required paperwork by the closing date of the announcement.

A federal application:

  • Requires applicants to submit a resume; and
  • Often requires completion of an assessment; and
  • May require transcripts, and
  • Requires documentation for military personnel.

If you are claiming preference, then you must submit the appropriate documentation. 

Reference Standard Form 15 (SF-15) External Web Site Policy External Web Site Policy for required documentation for 10-point claims. Submission of SF-15 is not required, unless you are claiming derived preference (XP) as described in questions 7, 8, or 9 on the SF-15. In those cases, you must submit a completed SF-15 and the required documentation. For 5 point claims, you must submit your DD-214 (if separated) or any written documentation from the armed forces that certifies you are expected to be discharged or released from active duty service in the armed forces under honorable conditions not later than 120 days after the date the certification External Web Site Policy is submitted with your application package.

What is a DD-214?

The Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, Department of Defense Form 214, is issued upon a military service member's retirement, separation or discharge from active-duty military.

You can obtain a copy of your DD form 214 by initiating a Military Service Record Request External Web Site Policy.

What is an SF-15?

The Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference, Standard Form 15 External Web Site Policy External Web Site Policy, is used by Federal agencies to verify a claim for 10 point veterans' preference in accordance with the Veterans' Preference Act of 1994. The SF-15 is also used for preference as a military spouse or mother of a veteran who is deceased or unable to work due to a service connected disability. Submission of SF-15 is not required at NIH, unless you are claiming derived preference (XP) as described in questions 7, 8, or 9 on the SF-15. 

Veterans' Preference

I served in the armed forces. Can I claim veterans' preference when applying for Federal jobs?

Not all veterans are considered veterans for the purpose of federal civilian employment under Section 2108 of Title 5, USC External Web Site Policy.

  • Veterans must have received an honorable or general discharge from military service.
  • Veterans with rank higher than O-4 are not eligible for preference, unless they are 1) a disabled veteran or 2) reservists who will not begin drawing military retired pay until age 60.
  • Active duty for training for National Guard or Reserve soldiers does not qualify as “active duty” for preference, unless the veteran is disabled.

Consult the law Section 2108 of Title 5, USC External Web Site Policy and the Office of Personnel Management Vet Guide External Web Site Policy for more information.

What determines eligibility for veterans’ preference?

The general information provided below is not all inclusive. Refer to the Vet Guide External Web Site Policy, which is produced by the Office of Personnel Management, for more complete information.

You may be 5-point preference eligible if you served on active duty during a war (armed conflicts declared by Congress as war) or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized.

You may be 10-point preference eligible if you:

  • Have a present service-connected disability rated at 10% or more; or
  • Are receiving disability compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension; or
  • Received a Purple Heart; or
  • Are the spouse or mother of a veteran who died in service or who is unable to work because of a service-connected disability.

Learn more about veterans’ preference from the Office of Personnel Management in the Vet Guide External Web Site Policy. To ensure that your military service is credited appropriately, submit the required documentation by the closing date of the announcement.

Special Hiring Authorities For Veterans

What are the special hiring authorities available for veterans?

The special hiring authorities available for veterans are:

  • 30% or more Disabled Veteran Appointment Authority
  • Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) Authority
  • Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998 (VEOA)

Learn more about special hiring authorities for veterans from the Office of Personnel Management in the Vet Guide External Web Site Policy. To ensure that your military service is credited appropriately, submit the required documentation by the closing date of the announcement.

What is the 30% or more Disabled Veteran Appointment Authority?

Veterans with a disability rating of 30% or more who meet all qualification requirements may be given a noncompetitive term appointment or temporary appointment of 60 days or more. There is no grade level limitation for this authority. 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 term or temporary appointment.

What is the Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) Authority?

VRA is a special hiring authority by which agencies may appoint eligible veterans without competition to positions at any grade level below General Schedule (GS) 11 or equivalent. Veterans’ preference takes precedence in these appointments. Those eligible for VRA are:

  • 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.

What is the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998 (VEOA)?

The VEOA states that agencies must allow eligible veterans to apply to positions announced under merit promotion procedures when the agency is recruiting from outside its own workforce. If selected, the veteran will be given a career or career conditional appointment. Veterans' preference is not a factor in these appointments and there are no demographic area restrictions. Those eligible for VEOA are:

  • Veterans’ preference eligible; or
  • Separated honorably after 3 or more years of continuous active service.

Special Hiring Authorities For Military Spouses

I am a spouse of a service member. Do I qualify for any special hiring authorities?

You may be eligible for 10-point derived preference or for a non-competitive appointment under Executive Order 134743 External Web Site Policy External Web Site Policy if you meet one of the conditions described on our military spouse page.

This page last reviewed on October 23, 2018

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