Applying for a Federal Job for Spouses and Parents of Veterans and Military Members

Jump to:

 

By Ralph Charlip, FACHE

 

The federal government is interested in hiring spouses and sometimes parents of veterans and military personnel and has established a number of special programs (called authorities) to encourage you to become part of the federal workforce. The federal government offers a superb compensation package with good salaries; regular pay raises; health benefits; long-term health insurance; dental and eye insurance; life insurance; alternative work schedules; options to work at home and some agencies also will help pay for student loans and offer other incentives. So, if you are going to compete with many others for a federal job, you need to know what special authorities you can use to land that perfect job.

 

Forms

 

DD214: Be sure you have a readable copy of the military member's DD214. You will need to submit a copy of this form with the job application under almost all authorities.

 

Standard Form SF-15,"Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference": You may be required to complete this form and provide the supporting documents as indicated on the form. You can find this form at http://www.opm.gov/forms/html/SF.asp

 

VA or Military Disability Rating: Some authorities can be exercised only when the veteran or military member is disabled, and you will need a readable copy of the individual's disability rating to submit with the job application.

 

Permanent Change of Station Orders (PCS): Some authorities can be used only in conjunction with an active duty member's transfer from one location to another. If you use one of these authorities, you will need a readable copy of the member's PCS orders.

 

Application Process

 

Since my article "Applying for a Federal Job" deals with this process in detail, I won't repeat information from that article in this one. But it is worth noting that you need to follow the guidance in the job announcement very carefully. If you plan to apply for a job using one of the special authorities described in this article, you should call the staffing specialist whose name and contact information appear on the announcement -- do not wait until the last day that the job is open to make this contact.

 

Special Authorities

 

There are a number of different authorities that apply to spouses and mothers of veterans and military members. These include: Veterans Employment Opportunity Act (VEOA) of 1998; Derived Preference; Military Spouse Appointing Authority (includes spouses of active duty in conjunction with a PCS, when the member is 100% disabled and when the service member has died); the Department of Defense's (DOD) Spouse Preference Program and Executive Order 12721.

 

VEOA: Unlike the other authorities, VEOA does not give you preference in the hiring process. It gives you the standing (called "status" in Civil Service) to apply for a job that normally is not open to individuals who are not currently federal civil servants. VEOA originally applied only to veterans and military members. Under VEOA, these individuals are permitted to apply for any advertised job so long as the agency is advertising for applicants outside the agency. For example, if the Department of Commerce is advertising a job and only Commerce employees can apply, VEOA is not applicable. If Commerce was accepting applications from other federal agencies, then VEOA does apply.

 

You can use VEOA to apply for a job just like a veteran or military member can as I described above. To be eligible to use VEOA, you must qualify under Derived Preference."

 

Derived Preference (DP): Derived Preference gives you limited preference in the hiring process based on your relationship to a veteran or military member when the member cannot use the preference him/her self (that is, they are deceased, so disabled as to be unable to work, or do not qualify for a federal job). Also, this authority is not the same as the DOD Spouse Preference Program (which I'll explain later).

 

How DP Works: When a veteran is disabled, they may qualify for a point preference in the application process. This means that when the human resource specialist scores the application, points are added to the disabled veteran's score. For disabled veterans, this is 10 points. If you quality for Derived Preference, then the human resource specialist adds the 10 points to your application.

 

DP Eligibility:

 

  1. General: In all cases, the member must be unable to use their veteran's preference (that is, they are deceased, so disabled as to be unable to work or do not qualify for a federal job). Both a parent and a spouse can qualify for DP based on the same veteran so long as the parent and spouse meet other specific criteria.
  2. In addition to DP, there is another set of preference authorities for the same group (spouses and parents) under 5 U.S.C. section 2108. However, the rules are the same as outlined below.
  3. Spouses: Spouses are eligible for DP if the veteran has a service-connected disability.
  4. Widow/Widower: You are eligible if you did not divorce the veteran, have not remarried (or if you did remarry, the marriage was annulled) and the veteran falls into any one of these categories:
    1. Served during a war
    2. Served from April 28, 1952-July 1, 1955
    3. Served in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal was authorized
    4. Died while on active duty under conditions that would not have been the basis for other than an honorable or general discharge andincluded service from one of the three categories above.
  5. Mothers of Deceased Veterans: You are eligible for DP if your child died under honorable conditions while on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized. You must also be married to, or have been married to the father of the veteran and be in one of the following categories:
    1. live with a permanently disabled husband
    2. be widowed, divorced, separated from the veteran's father and have not remarried
    3. if remarried, be widowed, divorced or legally separated from your husband at the time you claim DP.
  6. Mothers of Disabled Veterans: You are eligible for DP if your child separated from active duty with an honorable or general discharge (this includes training service in the Reserve or National Guard) and the member is permanently and totally disabled (Note: permanently and totally disabled is not the same as 100% disabled) from service-connected injury or illness. You must also be or have been married to the father of the veteran and you must be in one of the following categories:
    1. live with a permanently disabled husband
    2. be widowed, divorced, separated from the veteran's farther and have not remarried
    3. if remarried, be widowed, divorced or legally separated from your husband at the time you claim DP.

 

Military Spouse Appointing Authority (MSAA): This authority is similar to, but not the same as, the DOD Spouse Preference Authority (described later). Positions covered under MSAA include: permanent, temporary (not to exceed one year) or term (more than one year, but not more than four years). The MSAA allows a federal agency to appoint a spouse of an active duty member to a federal position without competition. You still have to submit an application (to ensure you are qualified for the position), but the agency can select you without advertising for the job, going through the process of qualifying all the applicants, conducting interviews with numerous applicants, etc. It allows the agency to hire you faster and much easier than the traditional competitive process. However, MSAA does not give you preference over others, it simply allows the agency to hire you without competition.

 

To qualify under MSAA, your sponsor must fall into one of these categories and you must meet the criteria in the category:

 

  • Have received PCS orders: the orders must indicate that you are authorized to relocate and you must actually do so -- that is, relocate with your sponsor. In addition, you can be appointed to a position only within a reasonable daily commuting distance of the new duty station and you must be appointed within two years of the PCS.
  • Have a 100% disability rating, and the sponsor retired under 10 U.S.C. Chapter 61 with a 100% disability rating from the military department or retired/was released from active duty with a 100% disability rating from either the military department or the Department of Veterans' Affairs. There is no geographic limitation in this category.
  • Died while on active duty: you must not be remarried. There is no geographic limitation in this category.

 

DOD Spouse Preference Program (SPP): Under DOD's SPP, military spouses are afforded special preference for a federal position within the Department of Defense when the sponsor has PCS orders and the spouse is authorized to accompany the sponsor.

 

What makes this program different from the MSAA is that you do get preference in the hiring process.

 

When human resources processes all the applications for a job, the applications are sorted into a number of categories. One of those categories is the priority that individual has in the hiring hierarchy. As an applicant under SPP, you are placed in Priority 3. Priorities 1 and 2 are basically civil servants who are being displaced for reasons like a reduction in force.

 

Under SPP, you have to register for the program which is not the same as applying for a specific job. Your name goes into a pool. As positions open, human resources reviews the pool to see if there are any qualified candidates to fill the job. If there are, then the hiring manager is given a short list of names from which the selection must be made. If you are the only person qualified, then the list is really short! You can generally register for the program 30 days prior to your PCS date.

 

If you are offered a position under SPP, you have two calendar days to decide if you will accept it. If you are outside the 48 continental United States, you have three calendar days to make your decision. If you decline the position, you are removed from SPP.

 

Executive Order 12721- Eligibility of Overseas Employees for Noncompetitive Appointments (EO): Under this Executive Order you can be appointed noncompetitively to a position in the federal government if you are returning from an overseas assignment with your sponsor. To qualify, you must:

 

  • have worked for 52 weeks while overseas in an appropriated fund position
  • received at least a fully successful performance appraisal
  • been accompanying a sponsor who was officially assigned overseas

 

If you take leave while employed overseas, the time you take as leave counts toward the 52 week requirement, this includes leave without pay. The 52 weeks does not have to be served continuously or on the same appointment.

 

Up to half (26) of the 52 week requirement can be waived by the head of the overseas agency if the employment period was cut short because of a non-personal reason that required relocation of the family from the overseas area. In terms of the waiver, non-personal means: disaster, conflict, terrorism or threat of terrorism, military deployment, military drawdown or other management-related actions. It does not include a circumstance that applies to the individual/family such as health issues or personal interest in relocating.

 

You can be appointed to a civil service position under this authority for up to three years after returning to the United States. This time limit can be extended by a federal agency for periods equal to the time you accompanied a sponsor on official assignment to an area of the United States with no significant opportunities for Federal employment; or, the time an individual was incapacitated for employment.

 

You do not register for this program as you would for the DOD SPP. When you apply for the job, be sure to indicate you wish to invoke EO 12721 and provide the appropriate documents. You should contact the staffing specialist whose name appears on the job announcement and discuss this EO.

 

Are You Qualified?

 

If you think you may qualify for any of these special authorities, you should contact the staffing specialist whose name appears on a job announcement; or, in the case of military spouses, the civil personnel office on your installation whether you are applying for a specific job or are interested in learning more about one of these authorities.

 

More Federal Job Resources

Applying for A Federal Job After Military Service  

Veterans' Preference in Federal Hiring 

What You Can Do to Negotiate Your First Federal Job