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Employment Resources for Family Members of Deceased Service Members4 minute read • Jan. 6, 2023
Joining the workforce after a loved one has died or become disabled can ease financial strain and provide assistance on your journey to a new normal. When seeking employment with the federal government, 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
Learn About SECO Benefits for Surviving Spouses
The Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program provides education and career guidance to military spouses worldwide. Survivors are eligible for SECO benefits.
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.
- The Priority Placement Program 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 a parent and the 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 under honorable circumstances during a war or campaign for which a campaign medal has been authorized.
- 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% disability rating
- Spouses of service members who died while on active duty
- Military spouses who’ve recently made a PCS 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.
- Your State Veterans Affairs office offers local benefits for survivors of deceased military service members or spouses of service members with disabilities.
- The Defense Department’s military spouse preference offers a preference for certain DOD civilian positions to spouses of relocating service members, as well as spouses of deceased service members and spouses of veterans with a 100% disability rating.
- The VA’s Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational 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:
- Military OneSource Spouse Education and Career Opportunities offers certified career counselors who can answer education and career questions and provide assistance with federal resumes, understanding hiring preferences and more.
- Feds Hire Vets provides an overview of the federal employment process on the How Federal Jobs Are Filled page.
- USAJOBS is where you can build a federal resume and find and apply for federal government jobs.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs offers services and information for caregivers of veterans and widows or widowers of deceased veterans. Visit VA Caregiver Support to find out more.
When re-entering 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.