Spouse Hiring Preference Limits Coming for Disabled, Gold Star


The federal government has a non-competitive hiring preference for some military spouses. Now new rules ordered by Congress in 2013 will be put in place limiting how many times some military spouses can use it.

Right now the rule works like this: if you've PCSed recently, are a spouse of a 100 percent disabled veterans or the spouse of a service member killed while on active duty, you qualify for the non-competitive hiring preference rule. You can use the preference once after each PCS or, if you're a Gold Star spouse or disabled veteran spouse, as often as you like.

In 2013 congress passed a rule change as part of the National Defense Authorization Act that caps the number of times Gold Star spouses and 100 percent disabled veteran spouses can use the preference at once. That means if those people apply for and get a federal job using the preference once, they can't quit that job and apply for another one using it again.

On the one hand, both sets of spouses have access to other, better, hiring preferences, our friends at the National Military Family Association have reminded us. Only having access to this non-competitive preference once shouldn't make that much of a difference. Then again, they muse, going to the trouble of limiting preference use for those groups seems like kind of a pointless endeavor. Why bother?

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announcement, which you can read in the Federal Register here, is open to public comment for 60 days. However, since this proposed change simply brings OPM in line with pre-existing law, it's unclear how public comments may influence the process.

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