Do you have questions regarding your FAA medical and VA disability benefits? A frequent question asked of our firm is whether an applicant for FAA medical certification needs to report his or her receipt of VA disability benefits to the FAA. There seems to be a good deal of confusion, somewhat caused by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, as to whether disability benefits are reportable. Question 18y., which specifically asks whether in the applicant’s lifetime he or she has received “medical disability benefits,” can be a bit confusing. Many veterans consider their VA disability benefits to be compensation for their service, rather than a disability. The FAA’s position, however, is that VA disability benefits are reportable on question 18y. on Form 8500-8, the application for airman medical certification.
Reporting your VA disability benefits on your FAA medical application does not have to result in the denial of your application. Some, if not most, medical conditions for which veterans receive compensation are not conditions which are aeromedically significant. Whereas some conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), traumatic brain injury (“TBI”), and obstructive sleep apnea (“OSA”), may warrant further evaluation by the FAA, even those conditions, in many situations, can be overcome to establish an airman’s eligibility for FAA medical certification.
If you have failed to report your VA disability benefits on your FAA medical application, you need to act immediately. In the event the FAA or the VA discovers your failure to report your VA benefits, as required, the FAA could take action to revoke your airman certificate(s), as well as your medical certificate. In rarer cases, there may be criminal action which can be pursued against you for failure to appropriately report your VA disability benefits on your FAA medical application. Fortunately, the FAA’s sanction guidelines provide an opportunity to take corrective action, which frequently avoids action for alleged “intentional falsification” and limits the FAA’s inquiry to your eligibility to hold a medical certificate.
Why involve a FAA attorney in your FAA medical application? Despite what you may hear from your AME, the medical certification process is more so a legal process than a medical process. Ensuring that your doctor is developing the proper documentation regarding your VA disability benefits, as needed, can be a difficult task. To that end, everything that is submitted to the FAA (i.e. records, statements, evaluations, etc.) goes into your airman medical file. This file is what the FAA then utilizes to evaluate whether you are eligible to hold a medical certificate. If you are later denied and wish to appeal that denial, your airman medical file becomes “Exhibit A” before the NTSB or upon reconsideration by the Federal Air Surgeon. So, a FAA attorney can evaluate your records, prepare a plan for best presentation of your case to the AME or FAA, and best argue your medical eligibility to the Federal Air Surgeon, with an eye for potential, future appeal. Furthermore, if your medical documentation is as strong as possible upon initial submission, in doing so, hopefully, you will avoid unnecessary delay. Also, if you have failed to report your VA disability benefits on your FAA medical application, a FAA attorney can give you counsel on how to rectify your omission.
If you are concerned about your FAA medical and VA disability benefits, call the FAA attorneys at The Ison Law Firm. We are happy to evaluate your case and discuss with you a plan for presenting your case to your AME or the FAA. Aviation law is all we do. Nothing else.