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Job Seekers

Special Hiring Authorities for Veterans

Special Hiring Authorities for Veterans are just that…designed for veterans. Knowing about these authorities and identifying your eligibility can enhance your job search. These special authorities represent a few of many appointing authorities that agencies may use as authorized. Veterans are not entitled to appointment under any of these authorities, but knowledge that an agency intends to consider candidates pursuant to such an authority may enhance a veteran’s chances to be considered. Check the vacancy announcements, which should clearly state Who May Apply.

Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA)

Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) is an excepted authority that allows an agency to non-competitively appoint an eligible veteran. If you:

  • Served during a war or are in receipt of a campaign badge for service in a campaign or expedition; OR
  • are a disabled veteran, OR
  • are in receipt of an Armed Forces Service Medal (includes the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal)for participation in a military operation, OR
  • are a recently separated veteran (within 3 years of discharge), AND
  • separated under honorable conditions (this means an honorable or general discharge).

You can be appointed under this authority at any grade level up to and including a GS-11 or equivalent. This is an excepted service appointment. Upon satisfactory completion of 2 years of substantially continuous service, you will be converted to the competitive service. If an agency has two or more VRA candidates and at least one is preference eligible, the veterans' preference procedures of 5 CFR, part 302 of OPM’s regulations must be applied when using the VRA authority.

Agencies may also use VRA to fill temporary (not to exceed 1 year) or term (more than 1 year but not to exceed 4 years) positions. If you are employed in a temporary or term position under VRA, you will not be converted to the competitive service after 2 years.

There is no limit to the number of times you can apply under VRA, as long as you meet the definition of a covered veteran under applicable law.

You must provide acceptable documentation of your preference or appointment eligibility. The member 4 copy of your DD214, "Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty," is preferable. If claiming 10 point preference, you will need to submit a Standard Form (SF-15), "Application for 10-point Veterans' Preference."

30% or More Disabled Veteran

The 30% or More Disabled Veteran authority allows an agency to non-competitively appoint any veteran with a 30% or more service-connected disability.

You are eligible if you:

  • retired from active military service with a service-connected disability rating of 30% or more; OR
  • have a rating by the Department of Veterans Affairs showing a compensable service-connected disability of 30% or more.

This authority can be used to make temporary (at least 60 days but not to exceed 1 year) or term (more than 1 year, but not more than 4) appointments in the competitive service. There is no grade level restriction. There is no requirement that you be converted to a permanent position, but an agency has the authority to convert such a position to a permanent position if it chooses to do so.

The agency would first place you on a time limited appointment of at least 60 days and could then convert that appointment to a permanent appointment at management's discretion. When the authority is used to meet a time-limited need, however, you will not be converted to a permanent appointment.

You must provide acceptable documentation of your preference or appointment eligibility. The member 4 copy of your DD214, "Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty," is preferable. If claiming 10 point preference, you will need to submit a Standard Form (SF-15), "Application for 10-point Veterans' Preference."

Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998, as amended (VEOA)

The Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998, as amended (VEOA) provides preference eligibles and certain eligible veterans the opportunity to compete for certain positions announced under an agency’s merit promotion procedures. It applies only when the agency is filling a permanent, competitive service position and has decided to solicit candidates from outside its own workforce. It allows eligible veterans and preference eligibles to apply to announcements that would otherwise be open to so called "status" candidates, i.e., "current competitive service employees and certain prior employees who have earned competitive status."

To be eligible to be considered pursuant to VEOA appointment, your latest, discharge must be issued under honorable conditions (this means an honorable or general discharge), AND you must be either:

  • a preference eligible (defined in title 5 U.S.C. 2108(3)), OR
  • a veteran who substantially completed 3 or more years of active service under honorable conditions.

When agencies recruit from outside their own workforce under merit promotion procedures, their announcements must state VEOA is applicable. As a VEOA eligible you are not subject to geographic area of consideration limitations. When applying under VEOA, you must rate and rank among the best qualified applicants, overall, to be considered for appointment. The preference conferred, in this case, is the opportunity to compete; the statute confers no entitlement to be selected ahead of non-preference eligible candidates. Your veterans' preference does not apply to internal agency actions such as promotions, transfers, reassignments and reinstatements.

Current or former Federal employees meeting VEOA eligibility can apply. However, current employees applying under VEOA are subject to time-in- grade restrictions like any other General Schedule employee.

"Active Service" under VEOA means active duty in a uniformed service and includes full-time training duty, annual training duty, full-time National Guard duty, and attendance, while in the active service, at a school designated as a service school by law or by the Secretary concerned.

"Preference eligible" under VEOA includes those family members entitled to derived preference.

You must provide acceptable documentation of your preference or appointment eligibility. The member 4 copy of your DD214, "Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty," is preferable. If claiming 10 point preference, you will need to submit a Standard Form (SF-15), Application for 10-point Veterans' Preference.

Disabled Veterans Enrolled in a VA Training Program

Disabled veterans eligible for training under the VA vocational rehabilitation program may enroll for training or work experience at an agency under the terms of an agreement between the agency and VA. While enrolled in the VA program, the veteran is not a Federal employee for most purposes but is a beneficiary of the VA.

Training is tailored to the individual's needs and goals, so there is no set length. If the training is intended to prepare the individual for eventual appointment in the agency rather than just provide work experience, the agency must focus the training on enabling the veteran to meet the qualification requirements for the position.

Upon successful completion, the host agency and VA give the veteran a Certificate of Training showing the occupational series and grade level of the position for which trained. The Certificate of Training allows any agency to appoint the veteran noncompetitively under a status quo appointment which may be converted to career or career-conditional at any time.

38 U.S.C. chapter 31; 5 CFR 3.1 and 315.604

Other Special Hiring Authorities

Though not specifically for veterans, and not entirely inclusive, the following is a sample of some of the more frequently used special hiring authorities that veterans should be aware of and apply under as appropriate. 

Schedule A Appointing Authority for People with Certain Disabilities

The Schedule A appointing authority for people with certain disabilities, 5 CFR 213.3102(u), is an excepted service authority that agencies can use to appoint individuals, including veterans who have a psychiatric, intellectual or severe physical disability. An agency's vacancy announcemnt will generally inform you whether the agency intends to consider candidates under this authority. To be eligible, you must:

Show proof of your disability. Documentation may be from any licensed medical professional (e.g., a physician or other medical professional certified by a State, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. Territory to practice medicine), a licensed vocational rehabilitation specialist (i.e., State or private), or any Federal or State agency, or agency of the District of Columbia or a U.S. territory that issues or provides disability benefits;

The above documentation may be combined in one letter or you can provide it in separate letters.  A sample letter can be found on the OPM website.

Agencies can use this authority, at their discretion, to appoint you at any grade level and for any job (time-limited or permanent) for which you qualify. Appointments filled under 5 CFR 213.3102(u) are considered to be exempt from the normal veterans’ preference procedures of 5 CFR part 302. After 2 years of satisfactory service, the agency may convert you, without competition, to the competitive service.

There is no limit to the number of times you can apply under this authority.

OPM encourages job-seeking veterans to seek consideration under all the hiring authorities for which they are eligible, in addition to claiming their preference under the competitive examining process (if applicable).

Pathways

The Pathways Programs offer clear paths to Federal internships for students from high school through post-graduate school and to Federal careers for recent graduates, and provide meaningful training and career development opportunities for individuals who are at the beginning of their Federal service. OPM administers the examination for the Presidential Management Fellows Program and publishes information periodically on USAJOBS about positions agencies intend to fill using the other Pathways Programs. If you are a student or recent graduate, you may wish to consider beginning your career in the Federal government by applying for a vacancy under whichever of the authorities described below may apply to you:

  • Internship Program: This program is for current students enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions from high school to graduate level, with paid opportunities to work in agencies and explore Federal careers while still in school. Additional information about the Internship Program.
  • Recent Graduates Program: This program is for individuals who have recently graduated from qualifying educational institutions or programs and seek a dynamic, career development program with training and mentorship. To be eligible, applicants must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion (except for veterans precluded from doing so due to their military service obligation, who will have up to six years to apply). Additional information about the Recent Graduates Program.
  • Presidential Management Fellows Program: For more than three decades, the PMF Program has been the Federal government’s premier leadership development program for advanced degree candidates. This program is now for individuals who have received a qualifying advanced degree within the preceding two years. For complete program information, visit PMF.gov.

For additional information on the Pathways Programs overall, please visit OPM’s Students and Recent Graduates page.

Related Content

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Application for 10-point Veterans' Preference

If claiming 10 point preference, you will need to submit a Standard Form (SF-15), "Application for 10-point Veterans' Preference."

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