Your experience and expertise in a military role has uniquely qualified you to serve our government in the civil service. Because of your devotion and commitment to our country, the government takes your veteran status into consideration if you apply to a Federal position. You should use this to your advantage.

To be eligible for Veterans’ Preference, you must have been discharged or released from active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces under honorable conditions. To receive Veterans’ Preference when applying for a job, you must demonstrate proper documentation of your eligibility. The member 4 copy of your DD214, “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty,” is preferable.

Veterans’ Preference gives you preferred status in appointment over other applicants. This applies to virtually all new appointments in both the competitive and excepted service but it does not apply to internal agency actions such as promotions, transfers, reassignments and reinstatements. It is important to note that Veterans’ Preference will not guarantee you a job.

When applying for a position in the competitive service, veterans’ preference can be applied either via category rating or through the point system at the agency’s discretion. The goal of the Veteran's Preference is not to the place a veteran in every vacant Federal job. However, preference does provide a uniform method by which special consideration is given to qualified veterans seeking Federal employment.

Preference applies in hiring from civil service examinations, for most excepted service jobs, and when agencies make temporary appointments or use direct hire and delegated examining authorities from the U. S. Office of Personnel Management.


To be entitled to preference, a veteran must meet the eligibility requirements in section 2108 of title 5, United States Code. This means that:

1.An honorable or general discharge is necessary.
2.Military retirees at the rank of major, lieutenant commander, or higher are not eligible for preference unless they are disabled veterans.
3.Guard and Reserve active duty for training purposes does not qualify for preference.
4.When applying for Federal jobs, eligible veterans should claim preference on their application or resume.
5.Applicants claiming 10-point preference must complete form SF-15 Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference.


5-Point Preference

Five points are added to the passing examination score or rating of a veteran who served:

  • During a war; or
  • During the period April 28, 1952 through July 1, 1955; 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
  • During the Gulf War from August 2, 1990, through January 2, 1992; or
  • 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 the date prescribed by Presidential proclamation or by law as the last day of Operation Iraqi Freedom; or
  • In a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized. Any Armed Forces Expeditionary medal or campaign badge, including El Salvador, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Southwest Asia, Somalia, and Haiti, qualifies for preference.

A campaign medal holder or Gulf War veteran who originally enlisted after September 7, 1980, (or began active duty on or after October 14, 1982, and has not 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. The 24-month service requirement does not apply to 10-point preference eligibles separated for disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, or to veterans separated for hardship or other reasons under 10 U.S.C. 1171 or 1173.

10-Point Preference

Ten points are added to the passing examination score of:

  • A veteran who served any time and who (1) has a present service- connected disability or (2) is receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension from the military or the Department of Veterans Affairs. Individuals who received a Purple Heart qualify as disabled veterans.
  • An unmarried spouse of certain deceased veterans, a spouse of a veteran unable to work because of a service-connected disability, and
  • A parent of a veteran who died in service or who is permanently and totally disabled.


If you meet the criteria for preference and achieve a score of 70 or higher either by a written examination or an evaluation of your experience and education, you will have 5 or 10 points added to your numerical ratings depending on the nature of their preference.

For scientific and professional positions in grade GS-9 or higher, names of all eligibles are listed in order of ratings, augmented by veteran preference, if any. For all other positions, the names of 10-point preference eligibles who have a compensable, service-connected disability of 10 percent or more are placed ahead of the names of all other eligibles on a given register. The names of other 10-point preference eligibles, 5-point preference eligibles, and non-veterans are listed in order of their numerical ratings.

Entitlement to veterans' preference does not guarantee a job. There are many ways an agency can fill a vacancy other than by appointment from a list of eligibles.

Category rating

The category rating system places candidates into larger buckets, such as ‘qualified’ and ‘well-qualified’, according to their job qualifications. Within this system, veterans are placed at the top of their category, and veterans with service-connected disabilities are looked at first.


You may need to submit college transcripts if you need to verify receipt of a degree, special coursework or if you are claiming superior academic achievement. Plan in advance to obtain your transcript, as some schools may need a few weeks for processing. If you are unable to obtain an official transcript, check with the HR contact listed on the job posting—some agencies may accept unofficial documents.