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Former Federal Employee Reinstatement

Eligibility, Requirements, & Application Process


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Reinstatement Eligibility For Former Federal Employees

Page updated 9/2/2016

Reinstatement / Federal Jobs / Civil Service Jobs

If you previously worked for the federal government in a career or career-conditional appointment you may have reinstatement eligibility. Reinstatement allows former federal employees to reenter the Federal competitive service workforce without competing with the general public. Former federal employees may apply for any open civil service examination, but reinstatement eligibility also enables you to apply for Federal jobs open only to status candidates.

If you are eligible for reinstatement and wish to return to federal service the reinstatement program affords you an advantage other applicants don't have. You will have to locate openings and at a grade at or below the grade you left federal service. The process is straight forward and outlined below.


Reinstatement Menu 

Eligibility Requirements

You must have held a career or career-conditional appointment at some time in the past. If so, there is no time limit on reinstatement eligibility for those who: Have veterans' preference, or Acquired career tenure by completing 3 years of substantially continuous creditable service.

If you do not have veterans' preference or did not acquire career tenure, you may be reinstated within 3 years after the date of your separation. Reinstatement eligibility may be extended by certain activities that occur during the 3-year period after separation from your last career or career-conditional appointment. Examples of these activities are:

  • Federal employment under temporary, term, or similar appointments.
  • Federal employment in excepted, non-appropriated fund, or Senior Executive Service positions.
  • Federal employment in the legislative and judicial branches.
  • Active military duty terminated under honorable conditions.
  • Service with the District of Columbia Government prior to January 1, 1980 (and other service for certain employees converted to the District's independent merit system).
  • Certain government employment or full-time training that provided valuable training and experience for the job to be filled.
  • Periods of overseas residence of a dependent who followed a Federal military or civilian employee to an overseas post of duty.

Reinstatement Application Process


You must conduct your own job search. Reinstatement eligibility does not guarantee you a job offer. Hiring agencies have the discretion to determine the sources of applicants they will consider. In other words they can hire from different registers so present your case professionally and respectfully when pursuing this option.

Individuals usually apply to agencies in response to vacancies announced under the merit promotion program. Some agencies accept applications only when they have an appropriate open merit promotion announcement, while others accept applications at any time. If you are seeking a higher grade or a position with more promotion potential than you previously held, generally you must apply under a merit promotion announcement and rank among the best-qualified applicants to be selected. Status applicants include individuals who are eligible for reinstatement.

CLARIFICATION: Reinstatement eligibles often assume they can apply for any open job that they qualify for non-competitively. This is not the case. If the highest grade that you last held in your federal job was a GS-9 grade you can only be rehired into a GS-9 position or lower grade non-competitively. You can't be hired non-competitively into a higher graded position. The only way for a reinstatement eligible to be hired into a hired graded position is to bid competitively through an open job announcement.

If you meet the reinstatement eligibility requirements contact agencies in your area to determine if job vacancies exist. If an agency knows that a fully qualified reinstatement eligible applicant is available, and they meet the requirements for reinstatement, the agency has the ability to hire that person. Agencies like having this option for several reasons. First, they are getting a trained and qualified employee. Secondly they don't have to advertise the vacancy thereby saving considerable time, sometimes months including personnel action processing, to get the job filled.

To establish your reinstatement eligibility, you must provide a copy of your most recent SF 50, Notification of Personnel Action, showing tenure group 1 or 2, along with your application. You may obtain a copy of your personnel records from your former agency if you recently separated.

The Federal Records Center has been established as a depository for official personnel folders of persons no longer in the Federal service. Federal agencies, generally, transfer employment records to the Federal Records Center thirty days after the employee has been separated from Federal service.

The telephone numbers and e-mail addresses listed may only be used to contact the facilities regarding procedures for submitting written requests for information. The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 USC 552a) and OPM require a signed and dated written request for information from Federal records. No requests for information from personnel or any other type of records will be accepted by telephone or e-mail.

National Personnel Records Center, Annex
1411 Boulder Boulevard
Valmeyer, IL 62295
Fax: 618-935-3014

Such inquiries should include your full name under which formerly employed, social security number, date of birth, and to the extent known, former Federal employing agencies, addresses and dates of such employment. The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 USC 552a) and the Office of Personnel Management require a signed and dated written request for information from Federal records. No requests for information from personnel or any other type of records will be accepted by telephone or e-mail.

Locating Agency Merit Promotion Announcements


Contact agencies direct, talk with agency HR departments in your area to determine if they have merit promotion vacancies at that location for your occupation. You can also find job announcements on our site by occupation or by agency. Explore all jobs that you may be eligible for in both the public and private sectors. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management makes job announcements available through USAJobs online. 

CLARIFICATION: I suggest that you contact all agencies in your area that utilize your job skills and send them an updated federal style resume along with a copy of your last SF-50 as mentioned above. Also send a cover letter describing what job you are looking for with a general introduction. Address the cover letter to the Human Resource Manager, Personnel Director or to a specific manager in the unit where you wish to work. Contact your local Federal Executive Board (FEB) for a list of agencies in your area. Most FEBs now have online web sties.

Take Charge of Your Federal Career: A Practical, Action-Oriented Career Management Workbook for Federal Employees by Dennis V. Damp describes this process in detail, plus it directs readers to where the jobs are.

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