Tools for Service Providers

Spouse Caregiver Hiring Preferences for Federal Employment

Caregiver spouses, family member caregivers and widows may be eligible for the Family Member Derived Preference or the Military Spouse Appointing Authority when seeking employment with the federal government. Hiring preference and appointing authority do not guarantee a job but do give a qualified candidate entry into the applicant pool. Caregivers seeking employment with the federal government may want to investigate the options listed below.

Family Member Derived Preference

Derived preference is a plan where the spouse, widow/widower or mother of a veteran may be eligible to claim the veteran's preference if the service member or veteran is unable to use it themselves because they are disabled or have died. A 10-point (sometimes called XP) appointment preference is given when the eligibility criteria is met.

Both a mother and a spouse may be entitled to preference based on the service of the same veteran if they both meet the requirements. However, neither will receive preference if the veteran is living and qualified for federal employment.

Additional information on eligibility criteria for widows/widowers, mothers of deceased veterans and spouses and mothers of disabled veterans can be found at Family Member (Derived) Preference.

Note: The Military Spouse Appointing Authority is different from the Military Spouse Preference, which provides for civilian personnel management within the Defense Department. Contact the DoD personnel office closest to your location or visit DoD Military Spouse Preference for more information on MSP.

Military Spouse Appointing Authority (Executive Order 13473)

Per Executive Order 13473, the Military Spouse Appointing Authority allows agencies to appoint a caregiver spouse or widow without competition. Agencies can choose to fill competitive positions using this authority on a temporary (one year or less), term (more than one year but less than four years) or permanent basis.

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 non-competitive entry into the competitive service. Knowing about the authority and identifying your eligibility may help in your job search. As you review vacancy announcements, look for positions that fall under the authority in the "Who May Apply" section. Spouses eligible for the Military Spouse Appointing Authority should seek "all sources" job announcements or merit promotion announcements.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, under an "all sources" announcement, agencies can choose to consider military spouse applicants on a separate list of applicants specific only to the Military Spouse Appointing Authority. The appointing authority may also choose to consider military spouse applicants along with other applicants also on the competitive list.

Under a merit promotion announcement, the agency must consider eligible, qualified military spouses in the same manner as it considers other applicants who are eligible for non-competitive appointments.

Eligibility categories for Military Spouse Appointing Authority

The three categories of spouses considered under this authority are:

  • Spouses whose service member partner has a 100 percent disability rating.
  • Spouses whose service member died or was killed while on active duty.
  • Military spouses who've recently made a permanent change of station move.

Each category faces different eligibility criteria. Initial eligibility for a military spouse begins when their active duty military partner receives a PCS move or has a 100 percent disability rating or died while on active duty.

More information on eligibility criteria and the Military Spouse Appointing Authority can be found at Non Competitive Spouse Appointments.


Navigating the federal hiring system may feel overwhelming at first, but there are services available to help you get answers and point you in the right direction.

  • Spouse employment and career counselors are available to answer employment and career questions and provide assistance with federal resumes, understanding hiring preferences and more. For more information, call 800-342-9647 or visit Military OneSource/SECO.
  • The one-stop resource for federal veteran employment information is Find news, success stories, an agency directory with veteran contacts, event calendar and job opportunities at Feds Hire Vets.
  • Find and apply for federal government job openings, build your resume and investigate resources at USAJobs.
  • The Veterans' Administration offers a host of services and information for caregivers of veterans and widows/widowers of deceased veterans. Visit VA Caregiver Support to find out more.  


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