If you have prior career or career-conditional service with the federal government, you may be eligible for reinstatement. For current employees, reinstatement rights are mainly of interest in reduction-in-force situations where an employee is facing loss of a position through no fault of his or her own.

Reinstatement allows you to reenter the federal competitive service workforce without going through open competition.

Limits on reinstatement eligibility

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 three years of substantially continuous creditable service.

If you do not have veterans preference or did not acquire career tenure, you may be reinstated within three years after the date of your separation. Reinstatement eligibility may be extended by certain activities that occur during the three-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;
  • certain government employment or full-time training that provided valuable training and experience for the job to be filled; and
  • periods of overseas residence of a dependent who followed a federal military or civilian employee to an overseas post of duty.

Reinstatement eligibility does not guarantee you a job offer. Hiring agencies have the discretion to determine the sources of applicants they will consider. For specific information on job placement rights and procedures in RIFs, see Reductions-in-Force.

Reinstatement after Military Duty

A person who holds a position in the executive branch may not be denied hiring, retention or any other advantage of employment because of membership or service in the uniformed services. See Reinstatement.

Reinstatement after Absences Due to Disability or Injury

If you are a career or career-conditional competitive service employee who left the government due to job-related illness or injury, were eligible for Office of Workers’ Compensation Program benefits, and recovered from your injury within one year, you are eligible for immediate restoration to your former agency. You should contact your former agency’s personnel office for information on how to formally request this restoration.

Reemployment after Termination of Disability Annuity

If you are a career or career-conditional competitive service employee who left the government through disability retirement, your annuity may be terminated because you were found medically recovered or because your earnings exceeded established limitations. If you receive notification from OPM’s retirement office that your benefits have been or will be terminated, you should first check with your former agency to see if they are able to reemploy you.

In addition, you are eligible for selection priority through the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP) for jobs in agencies other than your former agency in the commuting area you were in when you separated. The notification of annuity termination is your proof of eligibility for the ICTAP and must be submitted with all job applications. Your eligibility under ICTAP ends one year from the date of the notification. You need not include the current or last performance appraisal required for other ICTAP candidates.

Reemployment after Voluntarily Leaving the Government

Agencies may non-competitively hire former federal employees into competitive service positions if they have been separated for at least one year, were rated as at least “fully successful” in the former position, and meet qualification requirements for the new position.

Eligibility applies for life except that it is limited to three years after leaving with only “career conditional” status—that is, with less than three years of federal service.

Note: Until July 2021 this policy applied only for hiring into a position at no higher and with no higher promotion potential than the position the person previously held; at that time that restriction was removed to account for the skills and experience the former employee gained after leaving.