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WIOA Title I-A & I-B Policy & Procedure Manual
Ch. 8) Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs

8.3 Program Design

8.3.2 Priority of Service

Effective date: January 7, 2019 to August 31, 2020


"Priority of service" means the right to take precedence over a person with lower priority in obtaining employment and training services. The person with priority receives access to a service earlier in time than a person with lower priority or, if the resource is limited, receives access to the service instead of the person with lower priority.1 Priority is not part of the eligibility determination for any program; rather, it is meant to emphasize access to individualized career and training services for these higher-need populations.

Priority of service must be assessed at the time of eligibility determination, and participants must be informed if they are to receive priority.2 If, during participation, the career planner learns of changes in an individual's status that allow him/her to receive a higher priority of service, s/he must be given increased priority. For example, if someone who was not low-income at program entry becomes low-income during participation, s/he starts receiving increased priority as soon as the career planner becomes aware of the change.

Aside from the exception discussed under "Eligible spouse," below, once a priority level has been assigned participants cannot move to a lower priority level during an episode. Priority levels must be reassessed at the beginning of each new program episode.

Veterans and eligible spouses receive priority of service in all WIOA Title I programs.3

For the Adult Program only, priority for individualized career and training services must also be given to participants who are designated:

Priority for low-income and basic skills deficient populations does not apply to basic career services within the Adult Program6 nor does it apply to any services in the Dislocated Worker Program.7

Note: Eligible individuals who are not low-income or basic skills deficient may still be served in the Adult Program.8

Participant's Status Adult Program Services Dislocated Worker Program Services
Veterans and eligible spouses receive priority of service in all WIOA Title I programs
  • Green checkmark indicating yes All Services
  • Green checkmark indicating yes All Services
Low-income or basic skills deficient
  • Red X indicating no Basic Career Services
  • Green checkmark indicating yes Individualized Career Services
  • Green checkmark indicating yes Training Services
  • Red X indicating no Supportive Services
  • Red X indicating no Basic Career Services
  • Red X indicating no Individualized Career Services
  • Red X indicating no Training Services
  • Red X indicating no Supportive Services
  • Green checkmark indicating yes priority of service applies
  • Red X indicating no priority of service does not apply

Additional Priority Populations

The local WDBs may give priority to populations beyond those mentioned above for the Adult Program, in accordance with the order of priority described below. If a local WDB chooses to do so, those additional priority populations must be described in the local WDB's Local Plan.9 It is up to the local WDB whether a newly designated priority population applies to all active participants or only to participants who enter the program after the new policy becomes effective.

Veterans and Eligible Spouses

For the purposes of implementing priority of service, a broad definition of the term "veteran" is used. Under this definition, "veteran" means a person who served at least one day in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.10

Active military service includes full-time federal service in the National Guard or a reserve component. This definition of "active service" does not include full-time duty performed strictly for training purposes (which often is referred to as "weekend" or "annual" training), nor does it include full-time active duty performed by National Guard personnel who are mobilized by state rather than federal authorities (usually in response to events such as natural disasters).11

"Eligible spouse" means the spouse of:

  • a veteran who died of a service-connected disability;
  • an active member of the U.S. Armed Forces who, at the time of the priority determination, is missing in action, has been captured in the line of duty by a hostile force, or is being forcibly detained or interned by a foreign government or power for at least 90 days;
  • a veteran who has been evaluated by the Department of Veterans Affairs as having a total disability resulting from service; or
  • a veteran who died while a disability was in existence.12

A spouse can lose his/her priority if a living veteran or service member loses the status that was the basis for the priority of service determination (e.g. a veteran with a total service-connected disability receives a revised disability rating at a lower level or the couple divorces).13 Remarriage of a widowed spouse does not cause any loss of eligibility.14

See the Guide to Participant Case File Documentation for acceptable documentation to verify the status of veterans and eligible spouses. Order of Priority and Application

Priority of service must follow this order:

  • First: Veterans and eligible spouses who are low-income or basic skills deficient.
  • Second: Individuals who are low-income or basic skills deficient but are not veterans or eligible spouses.
  • Third: Veterans and eligible spouses who are not low-income or basic skills deficient.
  • Fourth: Anyone who does not belong to one of the groups above, but who belongs to a priority population established by DWD-DET or the local WDB.15
  • Last: Everyone else.16

It is not intended for a participant with higher priority to subsequently "bump" a participant with lower priority who has already been approved to receive a service. Priority of service applies up to the point that the participant receives approval to begin an individualized career or training service.17 At that point, the participant should continue to receive services as needed until the end of his or her episode, even if participants with higher priority must wait to receive services because funds are limited.

Note: If the local WDB has a waiting list for any individualized career or training services, participants must be placed on the list consistent with the order outlined above.18

Career planners should follow these steps to determine if a participant in the Adult Program must receive priority of service:

  1. Determine whether the individual seeking to enroll is a veteran or eligible spouse.
  2. Determine whether the individual is low-income.
    Note: Low-income status must be verified using the appropriate documentation outlined in the Guide to WIOA Title 1B Eligibility Determination and Documentation.
  3. If the individual is not low-income, s/he must complete the Basic Skills Screening Tool, which screens for basic skills deficiencies. If the individual answers "No" to any of the questions on the screening tool or is unable to complete the form without assistance, s/he is considered basic skills deficient.
  4. Assign order of priority (first, second, third, etc) as described at the top of this section and document it in the ASSET case notes.

English Language Learner

Effective date: August 20, 2018

English Language Learner means an individual who has limited ability in reading, writing, speaking, or comprehending the English language because English is not his or her native language OR he or she lives in a family or community environment where a language other than English is the dominant language.

WIOA Sec. 3(21); WIOA Sec. 203(7); TEGL 21-16, p. 3

U.S. Armed Forces

Effective date: October 1, 2017

The U.S. Armed Forces include the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard and their reserves.