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Employment Resources for Family Members of Deceased Service Members

Joining the workforce after a loved one has died or become disabled can ease financial strain and provide a break from grieving. When seeking employment with the federal government, military family members may be eligible for special preference programs. While these programs don’t guarantee a job, they provide a qualified candidate entry into the applicant pool.

Family member derived preference

Read Your Complete Guide to Survivor’s Benefits

This downloadable, comprehensive guide outlines the next steps and benefits to which service member survivors are entitled.

The spouse, widow, widower or parent of a service member or veteran may be able to claim up to 10 preference points on a federal employment application.

  • The Feds Hire Vets program gives eligible veterans preference in being hired over other applicants.
  • Family Member Preference allows the spouse, widow, widower or parent of a veteran to claim the veteran’s preference for certain federal positions if the service member or veteran is unable to use it due to disability or death.

Both the parent and spouse of a deceased service member or veteran may be entitled to claim the Family Member Preference if they meet eligibility requirements:

  • Widows and widowers — Their service member must have died during a war or campaign for which a campaign medal has been authorized under honorable circumstances.
  • Surviving parents — In addition to the above conditions, the applying parent’s own spouse must be totally and permanently disabled, or the parent must be unmarried or legally separated from said spouse.

Military Spouse Appointing Authority

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 rather allows for noncompetitive entry into the competitive service for widows and caregivers.

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 the Noncompetitive Appointment of Certain Military Spouses.

Other programs

  • Your State Veterans Affairs office offers local benefits for survivors of deceased military service members, or spouses of service members with disabilities.
  • The Department of Defense Military Spouse Preference 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.
  • The Survivors and Dependents Assistance program offers education and training opportunities to surviving dependents of veterans who are deceased or who have a service-connected disability.

Federal employment resources

Resources are available to help you navigate the federal hiring process. It may feel overwhelming at first, but these services can help you succeed in your job search:

When reentering the workforce after the loss or disability of a loved one, reach out to Military OneSource to connect with the military community and make the job hunt easier.

Installation Program Directory

Find programs and services at your local installation.