Joining the workforce after the death or disability of a loved one can be difficult, but it can also ease financial strain and provide a break from grieving. When seeking employment with the federal government, military spouses, family member caregivers, widows, widowers and surviving mothers may be able to take advantage of special preference programs. These programs do not guarantee a job but provide a qualified candidate entry into the applicant pool.
Family member derived preference
The spouse, widow, widower or mother of a service member or veteran may be able to claim up to 10 preference points on a federal employment application when eligibility is met.
- Veterans' preference gives eligible veterans preference in being hired over other applicants.
- Derived preference allows the spouse, widow, widower or mother of a veteran to claim the veterans' preference for certain federal positions if the service member or veteran is unable to use it.
- Both the mother and spouse of a service member or veteran may be entitled to claim the preference if they meet the requirements.
Check out Feds Hire Vets — Veterans' Preference and Family Member Preference (Derived Preference) for how veterans' preference works and additional information on eligibility.
Military Spouse Appointing Authority
and apply for federal government employment openings, build your resume and investigate resources at USAJobs.
The Military Spouse Appointing Authority allows federal agencies to appoint certain military spouses to a position without going through the competitive hiring process. The Military Spouse Appointing Authority is not a hiring preference or an entitlement, but caregivers and widows should be aware of it because it allows for noncompetitive entry into the competitive service.
The three categories of spouses considered under this authority are:
- Spouses of service members who have a 100 percent disability rating
- Spouses of service members who died while on active duty
- Military spouses who've recently made a permanent change of station move
As you review vacancy announcements for federal positions, look in the Who May Apply section to see if the job falls under the Military Spouse Appointing Authority. To learn more, read Noncompetitive Appointment of Certain Military Spouses.
- State benefits: Several states offer benefits for survivors of deceased military service members or spouses of service members with disabilities. Find out more at your state Veterans Affairs office.
- Military Spouse Preference: This program differs from the Military Spouse Appointing Authority, in that it offers a preference for certain Department of Defense civilian positions to spouses of relocating service members, as well as spouses of deceased service members and spouses of veterans with a 100 percent disability rating. Visit the nearest Department of Defense personnel office or DoD Military Spouse Preference for more information.
- Dependent Educational Assistance: This program offers education and training opportunities to surviving dependents of veterans who are deceased or who have a service-connected disability. Learn more at Survivors and Dependents Assistance.
Federal employment resources
VA Caregiver Support to find services and information for caregivers of veterans and widows or widowers of deceased veterans.
Resources are available to assist you with navigating the federal hiring process. It may feel overwhelming at first, but these services can help you succeed in your job search:
Remember that re-entering the workforce can prove challenging for anyone, especially those dealing with the loss or disability of a loved one. Make the process easier on yourself by using the benefits available to you in your transition, and reach out to Military OneSource for help.