Three Steps to Avoid a FAA Medical Denial

  • ON Jan 18, 2020
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  • BY Anthony Ison
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  • IN Pilot Law

There are three steps to avoid a FAA medical denial, whether you’ve been flying for years or this is your first FAA medical application. As you probably already know, a pilot’s license is only as good as the medical certificate that you hold. If you’re an ATP, student pilot, or just interested in getting into aviation, the common denominator is the need for a valid FAA medical certificate. Beyond that, the FAA’s new “BasicMed” certificate requires that your most recent medical application not have been denied. So, the impact of a FAA medical denial is becoming more consequential in the airman certification process, overall.


Before you submit an application to the FAA for medical certification, you hold all the power. Once you submit your application or medical records to the FAA, the FAA takes charge. Anything and everything that is submitted will be scrutinized by the FAA medical officers and considered in a light most favorable to aviation safety. This does not mean you should fabricate, falsify, or redact any information or documents. Instead, you should review all records and documentation prior to submission to the FAA in order to avoid a FAA medical denial. Doing so, gives you an opportunity to consider obtaining potential second opinions, more complete medical records, and developing additional evidence to support your eligibility in light of your condition. Addressing problematic conditions or records prior to submission to the FAA can work to alleviate the FAA’s concerns and help avoid a FAA medical denial.


Not all medical conditions are treated the same by the FAA. Some medical conditions require simple document review by the FAA, which can ultimately result in issuance of a FAA medical certificate. However, Part 67, the body of regulations which identify criteria for medical certification, identifies certain disqualifying medical conditions. If you have an established medical history or clinical diagnosis of one of these “specifically disqualifying” conditions, as outlined in Part 67, you will always end up with a FAA medical denial. Nevertheless, even if you received a FAA medical denial due to one of these disqualifying conditions, you may be eligible for a special issuance authorization (essentially a waiver). The various conditions requiring special issuance authorization require medical evidence specific to that condition to establish eligibility for issuance. Knowing what conditions require special issuance authorization can prevent a FAA medical denial and ultimately preserve your opportunity to fly under Sport Pilot rules.


Do not expect your aviation medical examiner or “AME” to necessarily understand how the FAA will treat your medical condition. Clinically, you may appear eligible for medical certification, which might support your AME trying to issue your medical certificate. However, certain conditions require the FAA to review your medical records, whether your AME believes you are eligible, or not. Ultimately, even if your AME issues you a medical certificate, the FAA can still deny your FAA medical application.

As you can see, there are ways to avoid a FAA medical denial. These tips can be broken down into more nuanced procedures and have been refined by the aviation attorney at The Ison Law Firm. If you are facing a FAA denial, help is only a phone call away: 1-855-FAA-1215.

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The information contained in this web-site is intended for the education and benefit of those visiting this site. The information should not be relied upon as advice to help you with your specific issue. Each case is unique and must be analyzed by an attorney licensed to practice in your area with respect to the particular facts and applicable current law before any advice can be given.


FAA Medical Assistance

  • ON Jan 07, 2019
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  • BY Anthony Ison
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  • IN Pilot Law

When looking for FAA medical certification assistance, is it smart to hire an attorney? Having a FAA medical defense attorney on your side has its benefits when you need FAA medical certification assistance. When faced with a FAA medical application deferral, FAA medical denial, or FAA medical revocation, you have options on who to get help from – your aviation medical examiner (“AME”), your airline, your union, your pilot friends, FAA medical certification agencies, etc. However, having a FAA medical defense attorney provide FAA certification medical assistance offers you more protection than any of the foregoing. How so?

When a FAA medical defense attorney provides FAA medical certification assistance, certain documents and communication can be protected by the attorney-client privilege. This means that in the event your FAA medical certification issue is appealed to the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”), certain documents and communications may be protected from disclosure. Whereas, with non-attorneys providing FAA medical certification assistance, communication and documentation is generally exposed to subpoenas, requests for production, interrogatories, depositions, and a myriad of other discovery tools.

Furthermore, hiring a FAA medical defense attorney to provide FAA medical certification assistance may aid in the cultivation of evidence which may be necessary for a future appeal to the NTSB. In that, anything submitted to the FAA will be included in your airman medical file. Your airman medical file ultimately will become part of the FAA’s evidence in the event a denial or revocation is appealed to the NTSB. As such, careful legal review of what is being submitted to the FAA medical office now is paramount to a potentially successful appeal later.

There are numerous reasons why hiring a FAA medical defense attorney is crucial to obtaining proper FAA medical certification assistance. Call The Pilot Lawyer at The Ison Law Firm today to discuss your needs for FAA medical certification assistance.

  • FAA medical defense attorneys do not provide medical advice, but rather aid in the logistics, legalities, and strategy of airman medical certification processes.

It’s Taking Forever To Get My FAA Medical Certificate

  • ON Dec 18, 2018
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  • BY Anthony Ison
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  • IN Pilot Law

It’s not uncommon for airmen with deferred FAA medical applications to find themselves saying: “it’s taking forever to get my FAA medical certificate.” When an airman’s FAA medical application is “deferred” by the Aviation Medical Examiner “AME,” the airman’s FAA medical application is sent to the cold, dark, labyrinth of either the FAA’s Regional Flight Surgeon’s office or the Aerospace Medical Certification Division in Oklahoma City for further evaluation. In some cases, following a denial, a medical application can be sent to the Federal Air Surgeon’s office for further consideration. Unfortunately, in these cases, it’s hard to say how long it will take for the FAA to evaluate your FAA medical application and make a determination as to whether you are eligible to hold a medical certificate. But why does it take so long?

This article doesn’t assume to know every reason why it’s taking forever for you to get your FAA medical certificate. Every case is different. Nevertheless, in practice, there are two main reasons why it takes so long for the FAA to make a determination on a deferred FAA medical application. The first reason is completely out of the airman’s control: backlog. There are a lot of airmen with deferred FAA medical applications and an insufficient staff to keep up with the backlog. So, sometimes, waiting for a file to actually be reviewed by a doctor or analyst adds the biggest delay to an airman’s file review.

The second reason for the delay in getting a FAA medical certificate following deferral is not having adequate medical documentation to support your eligibility to hold a FAA medical certificate. In some cases, your health may legitimately be disqualifying and it may not be possible to provide sufficient medical documentation. In other cases, however, when you don’t send in quality documentation (i.e. documentation that is responsive to the FAA’s requests, evaluations from qualified physicians, etc), this delays the FAA’s review of your application. This usually leads to the FAA requesting additional information and the process, perhaps unnecessarily, dragging on for much longer than is necessary. The key is ensuring at the outset that you’re sending in documentation that is likely to establish your eligibility for FAA medical certification.

If your FAA medical certificate is under review or if you anticipate your FAA medical application being deferred, consult with a knowledgeable FAA medical attorney. An experienced FAA medical attorney can identify the FAA’s policies appropriate to your medical condition and assist with gathering and providing documentation that may aid in your eligibility to hold a medical certificate and potentially cut down on the time it takes to be issued a FAA medical certificate.

Contact your FAA medical attorney at The Ison Law Firm to discuss your FAA medical issues.

*consultation with an attorney is not a guarantee to faster medical certification

Resolving a TSA Preliminary Determination of Ineligibility

  • ON Aug 09, 2018
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  • BY Anthony Ison
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  • IN Pilot Law

Are you a transportation worker who needs help resolving a TSA Preliminary Determination of Ineligibility? As an employee or potential employee who might need access to secure areas of the nation’s maritime facilities and vessels, the TSA will require you to have a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (“TWIC”). When applying for a TWIC, the TSA will conduct a background check to determine if you pose a security risk. As a TWIC applicant, you could be determined ineligible due to having a disqualifying criminal offense on your record. If the TSA determines that you have a disqualifying criminal offense on your record, the TSA will send you a Preliminary Determination of Ineligibility letter. This letter will identify the TSA’s rationale for determining your ineligibility for credentialing.

Resolving a  Preliminary Determination of Ineligibility requires timely attention and should be reviewed by your TSA attorney immediately.  Within 60-days of the date on the Preliminary Determination of Ineligibility letter, you or your attorney must provide a response to the TSA. If you need more time than the 60-days, you may be able to request an extension. Nevertheless, within the 60-days, you and your attorney should determine if your case is eligible for either an appeal or a waiver (or both).

Resolving a Preliminary Determination of Ineligibility through an appeal requires the applicant to prove that the TSA erroneously determined your ineligibility. An erroneous determination of ineligibility occurs when 1) you were not convicted of the offense(s) listed in the letter from TSA because the charge(s) was dismissed, nolle prossed, or you were found not guilty; or (2) you were convicted of a misdemeanor(s) only; or (3) you were convicted of simple drug possession; or  (4) the charge is an interim disqualifying felony as listed on the TSA website and the conviction date is over 7 years ago and you were released from incarceration over 5 years ago.

Resolving a Preliminary Determination of Ineligibility through a waiver requires you to prove that despite having been convicted of an interim disqualifying felony within the past 7 years or your having been released from incarceration within the past 5 years, or you were convicted of a permanently disqualifying felony at any time, the you do not pose a terror risk. Fortunately, most waivers will be granted by the TSA, so you and your attorney should carefully consider this option.

If you have any questions about resolving a Preliminary Determination of Ineligibility through appeal or waiver, call your TSA attorney at The Ison Law Firm. The TSA attorney is standing by to help and answer any questions you may have.


Denied FAA Medical Application

A denied FAA medical application has different consequences for general aviation pilots than it used to. Of course, a denied FAA medical application means that an airman either has a disqualifying medical condition, is taking (or has taken) a disqualifying medication, or the Federal Air Surgeon finds the airman’s medical status to be unsafe for flight. The Federal Aviation Regulations at Part 67 spell out which conditions are considered disqualifying and the FAA medical office maintains an unpublished list of which medications are disqualifying. Specifically disqualifying conditions which always lead to a denied FAA medical application (but may be certifiable via the Special Issuance process) include issues like (to name a few) substance abuse, substance dependence, psychosis, permanent implantation of a cardiac pacemaker, disturbance of consciousness without satisfactory explanation of cause, and bipolar disease.  There is a distinction, however, between specifically disqualifying conditions and the types of conditions which the Federal Air Surgeon can disqualify at his discretion.   Ultimately, whether a specifically disqualifying condition or a discretionary disqualifying condition, a denied FAA medical application means that the FAA feels the airman (in his or her current state of health) is a risk to the National Airspace System and should not be flying.

As a general aviation pilot, you may want to fly under BasicMed when you have a medical condition which you know won’t allow for a 3rd, 2nd, or 1st class medical certificate. Assuming you don’t have any of the specifically disqualifying conditions under BasicMed and you don’t mind the fairly liberal operational limitations that are associated with this type of medical certificate, it seems like a sure bet! Or does it? Airman are beginning to notice that BasicMed isn’t that helpful for pilots that otherwise can’t get a 3rd, 2nd, or 1st class medical certificate. In that, if your last medical application was denied or if your last medical certificate was revoked, you do not qualify for BasicMed. Unfortunately, this policy seems counterproductive to the whole point of BasicMed, which on its face is to allow an airman that couldn’t otherwise get a 3rd, 2nd, or 1st class medical the ability to fly.

So, if you have a denied FAA medical application (as your last application), you are ineligible to fly under BasicMed. This means that you will need to present your case to the FAA for a regular medical certificate or Special Issuance certificate. If you have a condition that is preventing you from obtaining your FAA medical certificate, call a FAA defense attorney that can review your case in accordance with FAA policy and develop a plan for a successful medical application (if possible). Call The Pilot Lawyer today if you’ve had a denied FAA medical application. Your FAA defense attorney is standing by to vector you through legal turbulence.