Have you had your medical application deferred to the FAA? What does it even mean when your medical application is deferred to the FAA? Typically, when a medical application is deferred to the FAA in Oklahoma City or to the Regional Flight Surgeon, it’s because the airman has or had a medical condition, symptoms of a medical condition, takes a disqualifying medication, or has had an alcohol or drug related arrest or conviction which the examining AME feels warrants a closer look by the FAA physicians. Largely, AMEs are required to defer certain types of medical applications to the FAA by policy. An example of this is when an airman indicates on his or her medical application that he or she has been arrested for an alcohol related event occurring less than 5-years ago. In this case, the AME is required to submit information to the FAA regarding the details of the alcohol event in question – which the doctors at the FAA utilize to determine the airman’s risk for having “substance dependence” or “substance abuse.” Sometimes, AMEs defer medical applications to the FAA because they are just unsure whether the airman is fit to fly. Almost always, however, when a medical application is deferred to the FAA, it means that the AME believes the airman’s qualification for medical certification is questionable and that he or she doesn’t have the authority to issue a certificate; thus, the application is deferred to the FAA to make a decision.

What practical concerns are there when a medical application is deferred to the FAA? When a medical application is deferred to the FAA, you as the airman can expect to receive a letter from the FAA requesting additional medical documentation about the underlying condition (or incident) and/or additional testing and evaluation to be conducted and submitted to the FAA (always at the airman’s expense). Unfortunately, a lot of airmen get caught up in the FAA’s system at this point if proper steps are not followed. In that, submitting incomplete medical records and/or records which do not demonstrate a resolved medical issue will either lead the airman to a denied medical application or otherwise keep the airman in the FAA’s queue for months on end. The takeaway is this: when your medical application is deferred to the FAA, make sure you submit documents that demonstrate your eligibility for a medical certificate or risk significant delay from the FAA and/or denial of your medical application.

What can an aviation attorney do to help you when your medical application is deferred to the FAA? Fortunately, an aviation attorney can review your medical records prior to your even going to the AME to determine what types of issues your records may present within the context of FAA policy. After completing that review, an aviation attorney will then coordinate with you (the pilot), your personal physicians, and the AME in order to triage issues and develop a plan of action. Sometimes the next step will be to refer you to appropriate medical specialists to obtain evaluations from an aeromedical prospective. Ultimately, your aviation attorney should coordinate all efforts to demonstrate to the FAA (the first time) that you qualify for a medical certificate or special issuance medical certificate. Once the “package” is sent to the FAA, your aviation attorney will work closely with the FAA to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays in the certificate or deferment process.

If your medical application has been deferred to the FAA or if you are concerned your medical application might be deferred to the FAA, call your aviation attorney at The Ison Law Firm to discuss your options. The Pilot Lawyer is standing by to vector you through legal turbulence.

*The Ison Law Firm does not provide medical advice.