Questions and Answers
About the
Selective Service System

 

 

The Selective Service System

 

1.            What is the Selective Service System and what does it do?

2.            Why should I worry about the Selective Service System when we don’t have a draft?

 

 

Who must register with Selective Service

 

3.            Why don’t women have to register with Selective Service?

4.            If they don’t have to register, why should women care about Selective Service?

5.            Who MUST register with Selective Service?

6.            Which men between the ages of 18 and 26 doNot have to register with Selective Service?

 

 

Rate of compliance with the requirement to register

 

7.            What is the rate of compliance with the requirement to register with Selective Service?

8.            What is the trend in the rate of compliance with the requirement to register?

9.            Why has the rate of compliance with the requirement to register increased?

 

 

What Selective Service likes to say about registering

 

10.       What does Selective Service tell 18-year-olds about registering?

 

 

Penalties for the failure to register

 

11.       What penalties could I face if I fail to register with Selective Service?

12.       How many prosecutions have there been in recent years for failure to register?

 

 

What Selective Service does NOT like to
say about registering and about itself

 

13.       What does Selective Service NOT tell 18-year-olds about registering and about itself?

14.       What are examples of how Selective Service treats men unfairly?

 

 

The history of drafting soldiers

 

15.       Is forcing people to fight in a war a relatively new idea?

16.       What is the history of the U.S. Selective Service System in the 20th Century?

17.       What is the United States history of the draft in the 20th century?

 

 

The prospects of a draft in the near future

 

18.       What recent events have increased the likelihood of a reinstated draft?

 

 

Classification of registrants

 

19.       What is classification?

20.       Is classification of individual registrants going on now?

21.       When will the classification of individual registrants begin?

22.       What are some examples of classifications that will be used with individual registrants when the draft is reinstated?

23.       How could I learn about ALL the Selective Service classifications that will be used with registrants?

24.       What are postponements, deferments and exemptions? How do they differ from each other?

25.       How many “active classifications” will there be that will result in persons with those classifications actively serving in some capacity?

26.       Can I make a claim to being a conscientious objector to participating in any form of war now, or do I have to wait until the draft is reactivated?

 

 

Reinstatement of the draft

 

27.       When would Congress and the President reinstate the draft?

28.       If there is an emergency, how long would it take the President and Congress to activate a draft?

 

 

The lottery

 

29.       What would happen next after the President and Congress reinstate the draft?

30.       What is the random sequence number (RSN) that will be given to registrants by the lottery?

31.       How long after the President and Congress reinstate the draft would the lottery be conducted?

32.       Could the lottery be delayed for a long time after the draft is reinstated?

 

 

Who goes to fight?

 

33.       What age group will be the first to be inducted into military service?

34.       Why will men affected by the draft lottery be hoping for high random sequence numbers (RSNs) if they do not want to serve in the military?

 

 

The structure of Selective Service
as registrants must deal with it

 

35.       What’s the structure of Selective Service as a registrant may have to deal with it?

36.       Is the “Local Board” the same as the “Draft Board” I’ve heard about?

37.       How are people appointed to a Local Board?

38.       What are the qualifications to serve on a Local Board?

39.       How could I get on the Local Board?

40.       Are local draft boards active during peacetime?

 

 

After the lottery, the fitness examination

 

41.      If the draft is reinstated, what would be the first thing that would begin to happen to registrants following the lottery?

42.       What else is the letter telling me to report to a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) for a fitness examination likely to do?

43.       Exactly what does the MEPS fitness evaluation cover?

44.       What happens to a person who is found to be unfit for military service at his MEPS examination?

45.       Does the "Information for Registrants Booklet" have ALL the information I should have before I go to MEPS for my fitness evaluation?

46.       Where could I get information about medical conditions the military considers disqualifying from military service?

47.       Would the fitness standards presently in AR 40-501 definitely serve as the fitness standards in a future draft?

48.       Wouldn’t the examiner at MEPS discover my disabling condition?

49.       After my fitness examination, would it still be important for me to know what medical conditions the Army considers to be disqualifying?

50.       Besides the "Information for Registrants Booklet," and learning about the medical conditions the Army lists as disqualifying in Army Medical Standards AR 40-501, how else could I get information I might need?

 

 

Filing a claim (or claims) for reclassification

 

51.       When would I file a claim for reclassification from class 1-A?

52.       If I file a written claim with my Area Office for reclassification as a conscientious objector before my reporting date, should I still report to the MEPS for the evaluation?

53.       If I make a claim for 1-O status before I go to the MEPS for an evaluation, and my claim is denied, what would my options be?

54.       If I want to make claims for classifications other than 1-A after my MEPS evaluation, would the “Notice of Acceptability” I receive following my evaluation at MEPS tell me all the Selective Service classifications available?

 

 

Processing of claims and the right to appeal decisions

 

55.       Do the administrators at Area Offices ever grant deferments, exemptions, or postponements, or are they always only decided by the Local Board?

56.       Besides claims for conscientious objector status, what other kinds of claims are always decided by a Local Board?

57.       If my claim is to be decided by the Local Board, will I appear before them?

58.       What could I do if the Area Office administratively denied my claim?

59.       If I don’t like a decision of my Area Office or Local Board, can I appeal to another board?

60.       Can all decisions of an Area Office or Local Board be appealed to a District Appeal Board?

61.       How would I begin to make claims for changes in classification after I’ve received a “Notice of Acceptability” and been presumptively classified 1-A (available for unrestricted military duty) following my fitness examination?

62.       What would happen after I tell my Area Office in writing that I wish to file a claim (or claims) for reclassification?

63.       Would I always be given SSS Form 8 in order for me to indicate all the kinds of claims for reclassification I wish to file?

64.       Are there any tricky things about SSS Form 8 that I should know?

65.   What happens after I return Form 8, notifying the Area Office of ALL the kinds of claims for reclassification I want to file?

66.       What problems am I likely to have with the individual forms sent to me for all the kinds of claims for reclassification I wish to make?

67.       Is it right that someone could follow all the correct Selective Service procedures and still not have enough time to document his claim(s) for reclassification?

68.       If I have been given an induction date at the time I received my “Notice of Acceptability,” or while claims I’ve filed for reclassification are still being considered, should I report for induction?

 

 

 

THE SELECTIVE SERVICE SYSTEM

 

 

1.  What is the Selective Service System and what does it do?

 

The Selective Service System:

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2.  Why should I worry about the Selective Service System when we don’t have a draft?

 

    Remember:

 

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WHO MUST REGISTER WITH SELECTIVE SERVICE?

 

 

3.  Why don’t women have to register?

 

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4.  If they don’t have to register, why should women care about Selective Service?

 

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5.  Who must register with Selective Service?

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6.  Which men between the ages of 18 and 26 do NOT have to register with Selective Service?

HOWEVER, if a young man leaves the full-time active duty military, one of the military academies, a hospital, or a prison, before turning 26, he must register.

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RATE OF COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENT TO REGISTER

 

 

7.  What’s the rate of compliance with the requirement to register?

      As of the end of 2003:
 

Men 18 to 25 years old -- 93 percent

Men 20 to 25 years old -- 95.4 percent

 

Number of names on file for men 18 to 25 years old -- About 13.5 million

 

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8.  What’s the trend in the rate of compliance with the registration requirement?
 

The 93 percent compliance rate at the end of 2003 was 2 percent higher than at the end of 2002.

 

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9.  Why has the rate of compliance with the registration requirement increased?

     Selective Service attributes the increase in rate of compliance to:
 

(1) enactment in some states and territories of laws requiring registration with Selective Service to obtain a driver’s license, permit, or ID card;

(2) increased use of on-line registration via the Selective Service System’s website;

(3) emphasis on volunteer SSS high school registrars;

(4) additional mailings to states (i.e., California and New York) having the lowest compliance, and nationwide to 19-year-old men who had not registered; and

(5) public service broadcast messages in English and Spanish, and outreach efforts to educational and community leaders and groups.

 

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WHAT SELECTIVE SERVICE LIKES TO SAY ABOUT REGISTERING

 

 

10.  What does Selective Service tell 18-year-olds about registering?
 

AND
 


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PENALTIES FOR THE FAILURE TO REGISTER

 

 

11. What penalties could I face if I fail to register with Selective Service?
 

      Men must be registered:
 


ALSO

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12.  How many prosecutions have there been in recent years for failure to register?

      

Between 1980 and 1986, twenty men were prosecuted for failing to register. Nineteen had been indicted as a result of self-publicizing or self-reporting their failures to register. Approximately half went to jail for about six months. The others received probation.

 

Since Jan. 1986, at least several hundreds of thousands of men have failed to register, but there have been NO prosecutions.

 

In recent years the Selective Service System has been relying on the lesser penalties, such as the loss of student loans. But, it should be kept in mind that Selective Service could resume prosecutions for failure to register at any time.

 


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WHAT SELECTIVE SERVICE DOES NOT LIKE TO
SAY ABOUT REGISTERING AND ABOUT ITSELF

 

 

13.  What does Selective Service NOT tell 18-year-olds about registering and about itself?
 

 

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14.  What are examples of how Selective Service treats men unfairly?

      
Here are two important ways:

Accordingly, in the important matters of killing and/or dying for a cause, your conscience is subordinated to the consciences of the country’s leaders.

Under present plans, most registrants must file ALL their claims for reclassification simultaneously. This is a departure from the past when different claims for reclassification could be filed sequentially.

 

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THE HISTORY OF DRAFTING SOLDIERS

 

 

15.  Is forcing people to fight in a war a relatively new idea?
 

 

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16.  What is the history of the U.S. Selective Service System in the 20th Century?
 

 

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17.  What is the United States history of the draft in the 20th century?

 

                            Major Conflict                      Number Drafted

 

WW I -- Sept. 1917 - Nov. 1918                    2,810,296

WW II -- Nov. 1940 - Oct. 1946                   10,110,104

Korea -- June 1950 - June 1953                  1,529,539

Vietnam -- Aug 1964- Feb 1973                   1,857,304

                                                                                     16,307,243 (92%)

 

               Total Men Drafted in the 20th Century
               (September 1917 through June 1973)

                 17,710,637

 

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THE PROSPECTS OF A DRAFT IN THE NEAR FUTURE

 

 

18.  What recent events have increased the likelihood of a reinstated draft?
 

 

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CLASSIFICATION OF REGISTRANTS

 

 

19.  What is classification?
 

Classification is the assignment of men to groups based upon their suitability for military service, exemption, deferment, postponement, or alternative service.

 

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20.  Is classification of individual registrants happening now?
 

There is no classification of individual registrants happening now.

 

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21.  When would the classification of individual registrants begin?

 

Selective Service would begin the classification program for individual registrants after Congress and the President reinstate a draft.

 

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22.  What are some examples of classifications that will be used with individual registrants when the draft is reinstated?
 

 

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23.  How could I learn about ALL the Selective Service classifications that will be used with registrants?

 

 

 

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24.  What are postponements, deferments, and exemptions? How do they differ from each other?
 

Postponements are granted for relatively short periods for reasons such as: allowing a sick or injured person time to recover, allowing for adjustment time after a death in the registrant’s family, allowing a high school senior to graduate or turn 20, or allowing a registrant to take a state or national examination related to a profession or occupation requiring licensing or certification.
 

Deferments are granted due to circumstances that are likely to change in the normal course of events. For example, a family hardship deferment would last only as long as the dependent(s) would suffer severe hardship if the registrant were inducted. Men who are deferred do face service, but not immediately.
 

Exemptions are granted for reasons that are less likely to go away, such as a person’s occupation as a religious minister. Exempt individuals do not have to serve.

 

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25.  How many “active classifications” will there be that will result in persons with those classifications actively serving in some capacity?

 

 When the classification system is put in place, there will be three “active classifications”
 that will  result in men having the classifications serving actively in some capacity.

 

 

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26.  Can I make a claim to being a conscientious objector to participating in any form of war now, or do I have to wait until the draft is reactivated?


If you are a conscientious objector, you CAN and SHOULD tell Selective Service and others that you are a conscientious objector now. See questions under “Conscientious Objection” to learn how to do that and why you should.

 

But, the Selective Service will not recognize your claim now. At the present time, Selective Service is not authorized to classify men.

 

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REINSTATEMENT OF THE DRAFT

 

 

27.  When would Congress and the President reinstate the draft?
 

As soon as there is a national crisis that produces a need for military manpower beyond the level that can be obtained by an all-volunteer force.

 

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28.  If there is an emergency, how long would it take the President and Congress to activate a draft?
 

If Congress was in session, and the crisis was severe, the President and Congress could reinstate the draft in less than a day. There is always contingency legislation to reinstate the draft on the shelf and ready to be used.


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THE LOTTERY

 

 

29.  What would happen next after the President and Congress reinstate the draft?

 

Soon after the President and Congress act to reinstate the draft, a lottery would be held.  Each day of the year would randomly be matched with a number, from 1 to 365 (1 to 366 if the lottery was held for a leap year).  The number assigned to your birthday in the lottery would be called your “RSN” (for “random sequence number”).

 

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30.  What is the random sequence number (RSN) that will be given to registrants by the lottery?

 

Soon after the President and Congress act to reinstate the draft, a lottery would be held.  Each day of the year would randomly be matched with a number, from 1 to 365 (1 to 366 if the lottery was held for a leap year).  The number assigned to your birthday in the lottery would be called your “RSN” (for “random sequence number”).

 

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31.  How long after the President and Congress reinstate the draft would the lottery be conducted?

           

It could easily be done in one day, and some people expect that.

 

But a better guess is that the lottery would be conducted one or two weeks after the President and Congress act to reinstate the draft. That would allow for advertising and better media coverage which would be beneficial in assuring the public that the lottery is fair.


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32.  Could the lottery be delayed for a long time after the draft is reinstated?

       
That depends. Selective Service has TWO broad mobilization (“draft”) plans:

 

 

 

For example, under RIPS, the lottery could be delayed if there were a proposal before Congress to make a significant change in the way the draft is conducted. But that would be unlikely to happen in the face of a crisis, especially a severe one.

 

The lottery could also be delayed under RIPS as long as the Secretary of Defense had not formally asked Selective Service to deliver inductees to the military.

 

According to current plans, under RIPS, Selective Service must deliver the first inductees to the military within 193 days after reinstatement of the draft. That should not be difficult for Selective Service.

 

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WHO GOES TO FIGHT?

 

 

33. What age group will be the first to be inducted?
 

 

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34.  Why will men affected by the draft lottery be hoping for high random sequence numbers (RSNs) if they do not want to serve in the military?
 

For each age group called up for military service, inductions will be in the order of increasing RSNs. Those with RSNs of "1" will be the first called.

 

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THE STRUCTURE OF SELECTIVE SERVICE
AS REGISTRANTS MUST DEAL WITH IT

 

 

35.  What’s the structure of Selective Service as a registrant may have to deal with it?
 

The term “Area Office” refers to those who administer the Selective Service System within an area.

 

The “Local Board” has a much narrower function, that of deciding which registrants receive deferments, exemptions, and postponements based upon circumstances and beliefs of claimants.

 

Selective Service also has “Appeal Boards” that hear appeals of decisions made by the Area Offices or Local Boards.
 

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36. Is the “Local Board” the same as the “Draft Board” I’ve heard about?

 

Yes, the Local Board is often referred to as the “Draft Board” or the “Local Draft Board.”

 

(Sometimes people loosely include the Area Office in what they refer to as the “Draft Board” since both the Area Office and Local Board are involved in assigning draft classifications.)

 

Each Local Board is a group of five citizen volunteers whose mission, upon a draft, will be to decide who among the registrants in their community will receive deferments, postponements, or exemptions from military service based on the individual registrant's circumstances and beliefs.

 

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37.  How are people appointed to a Local Board?

 

Members are appointed to a Local Board by the Director of Selective Service in the name of the President, on recommendations made by their respective state governors or an equivalent public official.  If you are interested in serving as a Local Board member, you may apply on-line for an application package at the Selective Service website.

 

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38.  What are the qualifications to serve on a Local Board?
       

 Some requirements to be a Local Board member are that you:

 

 

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39.  How could I get on the Local Board?

 

You can request that an application for membership on the Local Board be sent to you.  Under the “Key Information” section of the Selective Service System’s website (http://www.sss.gov/), click on the link “Board Member Application.”  A form will be displayed on which you will need to provide your name, address, and telephone number.

 

When you have filled out the form and clicked the “Submit” button, you will receive a confirmation that the information you entered was received at the Selective Service System’s secure server.  You should then receive within a reasonable period of time an application for board membership, a business reply envelope, and a Board Member Information Booklet that gives details on Board Member responsibilities.  Once you have completed and mailed your Potential Board Member Application Form 404, a Selective Service employee will contact you to schedule a personal interview.

 

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40.  Are local draft boards active during peacetime?

 

Yes! The Board Member program is one of the primary components of the Selective Service System. Over 11,000 volunteers are currently trained in Selective Service regulations and procedures so that if a draft is reinstated, they will be able to fulfill their obligations fairly and equitably. Board members undergo an initial 8-hour training
session and then participate in annual training in which they review sample cases similar to real-life situations.

 

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AFTER THE LOTTERY, THE FITNESS EXAMINATION

 

 

41.  If the draft is reinstated, what would be the first thing that would begin to happen to registrants following the lottery?

 

Registrants with low random sequence numbers (RSNs) will be the first to be called in a draft. They would receive letters telling them that they must report to a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) for an evaluation of their fitness to serve in the U.S. military. 

 

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42. What else would the letter telling me to report to MEPS for a fitness evaluation do?

 

 

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43.  Exactly what does the MEPS fitness evaluation cover?

 

Basically, It covers the registrant’s physical, mental, and moral fitness to serve in the U.S. military.

 

You should go to such an examination prepared to speak about your health history. For most registrants, it would be a good idea for them to review their health records before they go for their evaluations.

 

Some reasons for disqualifying a person from military service may not become apparent to the doctor during the physical examination and should be brought to the doctor’s attention by the registrant.
 

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44.  What happens to a person who is found to be unfit for military service at his MEPS examination?

 

A registrant found to be unqualified for military service under established physical, mental, or moral standards is classified as 4-F and is not inducted into the Armed Forces.

 

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45.  Does the “Information for Registrants Booklet” have ALL the information I should have before I go to MEPS for my examination?

 

Probably not. For many people it doesn’t even come close to providing all the information they would need.

 

For example, although the booklet tells you that exemptions can be given for disabling physical/mental health reasons, it doesn’t tell you the health conditions that would disqualify someone from military service.

 

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46.  Where could I get information about medical conditions the military considers disqualifying from military service?

 

There are hundreds of disqualifying conditions listed in the Army Medical Standards, AR 40-501, Chapter 2.  Unless you see the list, or talk with someone about the list, you would not know what disqualifying medical conditions you may have.

 

Remember, there is a vast difference between what you think is disabling in civilian life and what the Army believes is disqualifying for enlistment, appointment, or induction into the military.

 

If you don’t know that you have a condition that the Army considers disqualifying, you may not call the examiner’s attention to something he/she ought to know.

 

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47.  Would the fitness standards presently in AR 40-501 definitely serve as the fitness standards in a future draft?

 

 

 

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48.  Wouldn’t the examiner at MEPS discover my disabling condition?

 

If the Army performed its examination in compliance with the Army Medical Standards in AR 40-501, about 50% of examinees would fail the test.

 

Unfortunately the Army does NOT always conduct its examination that thoroughly.

 

And since most people do not know which conditions the Army believes are disqualifying, disqualifying conditions often remain unknown to examiners and many people have been accepted into military service who shouldn’t have been. Current practices would most likely not be improved under the pressures of a reinstated draft.

 

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49.  After my fitness examination, would it still be important for me to know what medical conditions the Army considers to be disqualifying?

 

After your MEPS evaluation, if you still do not know what medical conditions are considered disqualifying by the military, you would not be able to file a claim for an exemption you should be entitled to.

 

In order to file a claim for a 4-F classification after having been found fit at MEPS, you would have to be VERY well prepared. According to present rules, under RIPS, the Local Office could decide administratively to not allow such a claim.

 

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50.  Besides the “Information for Registrants Booklet,” and learning about the medical conditions the Army lists as disqualifying in Army Medical Standards, AR 40-501, how else could I get information I might need?

 

 

 

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FILING A CLAIM (OR CLAIMS) FOR RECLASSIFICATION

 

 

51.  When would I file a claim for reclassification from class 1-A?

 

      Under RIPS, the broad mobilization [draft] plan the Selective Service System would be most likely to implement –

 

 

 

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52.  If I file a written claim with my Area Office for reclassification as a conscientious objector before my reporting date, should I still report to the MEPS for the evaluation?

 

According to SSS Form 252, you should NOT report to the MEPS after you have filed a written claim for postponement or reclassification with your Area Office of Selective Service.

 

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53.  Suppose I make a claim for 1-O status before I go to the MEPS for an evaluation, and my claim is denied. What would my options be?

     

       Your options at that point would be:
 

 

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54.  If I want to make claims for classifications other than 1-A after my MEPS evaluation, would the “Notice of Acceptability” I receive following my evaluation at MEPS tell me all the Selective Service classifications available?

 

No! Just as before your evaluation at MEPS, the burden will still be on you to consider your own circumstances and beliefs, and to find out what classifications might be available to accommodate them. Start by studying the “Information for Registrants Booklet” mentioned earlier.
 

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PROCESSING OF CLAIMS AND THE RIGHT TO APPEAL DECISIONS

 

 

55.  Do the administrators at Area Offices ever grant deferments, exemptions, or postponements, or are they always only decided by the Local Board?

 

Most kinds of claims for new classifications are easy to decide, and changes in the registrants’ classifications in those cases are made or denied by administrators in Area Offices. These are referred to as “administrative classifications.”

 

Other kinds of claims, such as claims of conscientious objection (1-A-O or 1-O), are more difficult to judge, and the merits of those are always decided by Local Boards trained to do that. These are referred to as “judgmental classifications.”

 

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56.  What other kinds of claims are always decided by a Local Board?

 

Besides 1-A-O and 1-O, claims for these additional “judgmental classifications” must also be decided by the Local Board, subject to appeal:

 

 

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57.  If my claim is decided by the Local Board, do I appear before them?

 

 

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58.  What could I do if the Area Office administratively denied my claim?

 

A registrant may ask the Local Board to review a claim for student postponement or reclassification that was administratively denied by the Area Office.


The registrant may also ask to appear before his Local Board during its review of the claim.

 

A request to have the Local Board review the Area Office’s decision on a claim is not considered a part of the Selective Service System’s appeal process. That process formally begins when an appeal is made to a District Appeal Board.

 

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59.  If I don’t like a decision of my Area Office or Local Board, can I appeal to another board?

 

Yes! A registrant may appeal a decision of his Area Office or Local Board to a District Appeal Board. That’s considered the first line of appeal.

 

If the decision of the District Appeal Board is not unanimous, the registrant may appeal further, up to the President through the National Appeal Board.

 

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60.  Can all decisions of an Area Office or Local Board be appealed to a District Appeal Board?

           

No, decisions on some kinds of claims cannot be appealed.

 

A registrant will be told whether he has the right to appeal a decision when he is notified of the decision.

 

If there is a right to appeal, the registrant will be given instructions as to how it must be done, and a time limit for filing the appeal.

 

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61.  How would I begin to make claims for changes in classification after I’ve received a “Notice of Acceptability” and been presumptively classified 1-A (available for unrestricted military duty) following my fitness examination?

 

 

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62.  What would happen after I tell the Area Office in writing that I wish to file a claim (or claims) for reclassification?

 

 

 

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63.  Would I always be given SSS Form 8 in order for me to indicate all the kinds of claims for reclassification I wish to file?

 

 

 

[Remember, RIMS is the emergency mobilization plan the Selective Service System would use if the need for military manpower was very immediate. The broad mobilization plan more likely to be used is RIPS.]

 

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64.  Are there any tricky things about SSS Form 8 that I should know?

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65.  What happens after I return Form 8, notifying the Area Office of ALL the kinds of claims for reclassification I want to file?

 

The Area Office would send you all the individual forms necessary to make the claims for each kind of reclassification that you checked off on SSS Form 8. For example, if you checked “Conscientious objector” on Form 8, you would be sent SSS Form 22 which is used to file a conscientious objection claim.

 

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66.  What problems am I likely to have with the individual forms sent to me for all the kinds of claims for reclassification I wish to make?

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67.  Is it right that someone could follow all the correct Selective Service procedures and still not have enough time to document his claim(s) for reclassification?
 

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68.  If I have been given an induction date at the time I received my “Notice of Acceptability,” or while claims I’ve filed for reclassification are still being considered, should I report for induction?

 

A registrant who files claims for changes in his classification to the Area Office does NOT have to follow an instruction to report for induction or military training until ALL his claims – and any appeals he files - have been decided.

 

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