FAA Medical Denied Because Of Depression?

  • ON Jan 12, 2022
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  • BY Anthony Ison
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  • IN Pilot Law

Is your FAA medical denied because of depression? Fortunately, depression is not a condition which is specifically identified by the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR Part 67) as being a disqualifying medical condition. Instead, however, the FAA has identified depression as a condition which warrants evaluation regarding its aeromedical significance for any given airmen. As is authorized by Part 67 (the body of regulations which speaks to medical certification standards), the Federal Air Surgeon can deny an airman medical certification for a history of a mental condition which either makes the airman unable to safely perform the duties or exercise the privileges of the airman certificate applied for or held; or may reasonably be expected, for the maximum duration of the airman medical certificate applied for or held, to make the person unable to perform those duties or exercise those privileges. See 14 C.F.R. Sec. 67.107(c), 67.207(c), and 67.307(c). In other words, the Federal Air Surgeon can deny you a medical certificate if your history is significant for depressive symptoms which may manifest in an aeromedically significant fashion.

In our practice, we have found that the FAA’s primary concern when evaluating an individual’s history of depression is whether the individual’s case history suggests a risk for recurrence of symptoms. Typically, this assessment manifests through the FAA doctors’ review of your medical records. As you may be aware, when you report a history of depression on your medical application, the FAA’s first response is usually to request that you send all of your medical records relative to your history of depression for their review. Within that review, the FAA is typically looking at whether you have had multiple recurrences of depressive symptoms, whether you are using a disqualifying medication to treat your depressive symptoms, whether treatment has been successful in the past, and what your risk for recurrence of symptoms may be. If this assessment of your medical records (and current evaluations, if available) renders a risk for recurrence of depressive symptoms, the FAA will typically deny your application.

As with all certification matters, the element of proper presentation of evidence is relevant in cases dealing with depression. The key question is: what can you do to sufficiently satisfy the FAA’s concerns that risk is mitigated in light of your history of depression? Sometimes, the answer is consideration of treatment with a SSRI and seeking a special issuance authorization, or maybe it is appropriate to challenge whether your diagnosis of depression was accurate in the first place. No matter the approach, the FAA needs to see that risk is sufficiently mitigated, despite your medical history.

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. As with denials for the use of a disqualifying medication, ensuring that your doctor is developing the proper documentation regarding your discontinuation of the medication, as well as the status of your underlying condition, can be a delicate process. 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 FAA, and best argue your medical eligibility to the Federal Air Surgeon, with an eye for potential, future appeal.

Is your FAA medical denied because of depression? 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 for consideration by the Federal Air Surgeon. Aviation law is all we do. Nothing else.

 

Is Your FAA Medical Denied Because You Use Lexapro?

  • ON Nov 21, 2021
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  • BY ThePilotLawyer
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  • IN Pilot Law

Is your FAA medical denied because you use Lexapro? If you are reporting a history of using Lexapro (generic being Escitalopram) on your FAA medical application, your medical application will be deferred by your Aviation Medical Examiner (“AME”). Thereafter, the FAA’s Office of Aerospace Medicine will send you correspondence, likely requesting copies of your medical records relevant to your history of treatment with Lexapro. Don’t let this correspondence give you any false hope, as the FAA is likely to deny your application if you are currently using Lexapro because Lexapro is a disqualifying medication for airman medical certification. Even though you may be denied, you can still get a medical certificate if you are currently using Lexapro. Lexapro is one of four selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (“SSRI”) medications which can be approved for use under a special issuance authorization.

If you opt to continue using Lexapro, you will need to apply for a SSRI special issuance. In doing so, the FAA will require you will to jump through various “hoops” to establish your ongoing stability on the medication. The process of obtaining a special issuance authorization for Lexapro use can be difficult and subject to nuanced consideration for your history. The FAA calls this SSRI Decision Path – II: SSRI Decision Path – II (faa.gov)

If you do not opt to pursue a SSRI special issuance authorization, your only other option is to consider, with your doctor, discontinuing the Lexapro. If you opt to discontinue your Lexapro, with your doctor’s approval and supervision, the question for the FAA then becomes whether your underlying medical condition, for which you were being treated with Lexapro, is stable and/or presents a risk for recurrence. There are some conditions, such as Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent, which typically carry with them a higher level of concern by the FAA for recurrence, if left untreated. So, if you decide to follow the pathway of discontinuing Lexapro, the burden will be upon you to demonstrate that you do not have an underlying condition that poses a risk for recurrent symptoms. In other words, just because you discontinue using Lexapro does not mean that the FAA will automatically issue to you a medical certificate. The FAA calls this SSRI Decision Path – I: SSRI Decision Path – I (faa.gov)

Why involve a FAA medical attorney when you are using Lexapro? Despite what you may hear from your AME, the medical certification process is more so a legal process than a medical process. As with denials for the use of a disqualifying medication, ensuring that your doctor is developing the proper documentation regarding your discontinuation of the medication, as well as the status of your underlying condition, can be a delicate process. To that end, everything that is submitted to the FAA (i.e. records, statements, evaluations, etc.) goes into your airman medical file. Whether you opt to discontinue your use of Lexapro (with your doctor’s approval) or pursue a special issuance authorization, the FAA attorneys at The Ison Law Firm are here to guide you through the process.

Is your FAA medical denied because you use Lexapro? 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 for consideration by the Federal Air Surgeon. Aviation law is all we do. Nothing else.

Can I Get a FAA Medical Certificate with a TBI?

  • ON Mar 03, 2021
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  • BY Anthony Ison
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  • IN Pilot Law

Can I Get a FAA Medical Certificate with a  TBI? This is a question that we are asked frequently by airmen who have had a head injury. This firm most frequently sees airmen attempting to achieve FAA medical certification despite a history of traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) resulting from an automobile or aircraft accident, a fall, injuries incurred in the military, or as the result of another traumatic injury.  Of course, every case is different; however, it may be possible to achieve FAA medical certification following a TBI. There are very specific items that the FAA will evaluate in order to establish whether your history of TBI puts you at risk for developing aeromedically significant, side-effects, subsequent to the injury.

In practice, the FAA stresses a concern for posttraumatic epilepsy or seizures, following a TBI. Specifically, the FAA has identified that excess risk of seizures remains elevated for 10 years after mild brain injury. For the most part, we commonly work with airmen who are several months, post-injury and experiencing no symptoms. In most cases, the airman’s treating neurologist has even cleared the airman back to work and has expressed no concern for the development of seizures. The FAA, however, in an abundance of caution, will typically be very cautious with how long the agency will require an airman to wait, prior to considering the airman for medical certification.

If you’ve had a TBI, you can expect the FAA to want to review a number of items, to assess your neurological and neuropsychological status, as well as your risk for developing seizures. This may include review of all medical records, including pre-hospital, emergency department, specialty consultation, and operative reports. Typically, the FAA will also request a neuropsychological evaluation (to FAA standards), as well as a MRI with specific hemosiderin protocol.

If the FAA is asking you for medical records and evaluation following a TBI, be careful how you respond and what information you provide. Keep in mind that you may be able to argue to the FAA that previously completed, diagnostic workup supports your eligibility for medical certification and that additional evaluation may be unnecessary. If there is an opportunity to avoid unnecessary, expensive, and potentially problematic evaluation and imaging, that opportunity should be considered with a FAA medical attorney who is familiar with the FAA’s TBI protocol.

If you are asking “can I Get a FAA Medical Certificate with a History of TBI,” call to have a consultation with a FAA defense attorney at The Ison Law Firm. Our attorneys can evaluate your case and provide important counsel, as you develop an appropriate response to the FAA’s Office of Aerospace Medicine.

FAA Medical and VA Benefits for PTSD

  • ON Mar 02, 2021
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  • BY Anthony Ison
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  • IN Pilot Law

Is it possible to obtain a FAA medical certificate and VA benefits for PTSD? There are many veterans who hold medical certificates with the FAA, despite actively receiving benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”). While every case is different, the FAA typically considers an airman’s current mental health status, whether the airman requires on-going treatment for symptoms, and the airman’s level of risk for recurrence of PTSD symptoms, to consider whether an airman is eligible for airman medical certification. The airman’s history will also be considered. Specifically, the FAA evaluates an airman’s history for the purposes of confirming whether symptoms have resolved, that the airman is not taking medication for PTSD, and that there is no history of other mental illness.

While your PTSD may be in remission, the FAA can still consider you for certification even if you are receiving counseling for PTSD. Specifically, the FAA will frequently issue a special issuance authorization to airmen who require ongoing counseling for PTSD. Typically, in order to maintain medical certification and special issuance for PTSD, the FAA will require that an airman provide frequent updates from a healthcare professional regarding treatment, status, and prognosis. The FAA doesn’t always require these updates be from a psychiatrist, but rather from either your primary care physician or counselor.

At the end of the day, it is possible to obtain a FAA medical certificate and VA benefits for PTSD at the same time. There are some tactics and strategy that may very well help you more easily demonstrate eligibility for certification with the FAA and move through the process faster. If you’d like to discuss how you can present your VA benefits for PTSD to the FAA, call the FAA medical attorneys at The Ison Law Firm.

Unreported Conditions on Your FAA Medical Application

  • ON Jul 03, 2020
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  • BY Anthony Ison
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  • IN Pilot Law

Yes, unreported conditions on your FAA medical application could lead to serious consequences. Maybe it was an accident. You didn’t really read the questions. You misunderstood the question. You were afraid to report something that could lead to denial of your medical application. If the FAA discovers an unreported condition, including DUI arrests and VA disability benefits, the bad news is that you could face revocation of your airman certificate and your medical certificate. If discovered early, however, before the FAA discovers your non-compliance, you may be able to fix your error and avoid much of the harsh sanctions imposed by the FAA for alleged “falsification.”

Specifically, Order 2150.3C regarding the FAA’s Compliance and Enforcement Program speaks to the significance of “corrective action.” Specifically, the Order states at page 4-27 that:

“Evidence of an apparent violator’s corrective action presented during an investigation is included in the EIR. Corrective action is a mitigating factor when it exceeds regulatory or statutory requirements, corrects the underlying violation, and is designed to prevent future violations. The significance of corrective action as a mitigating factor is determined by the timeliness of the action (e.g., before FAA discovery of a violation, after discovery but before legal enforcement action is initiated, or after legal enforcement action is taken) and how extensive it is.”

The significance of this language is that, in practice, typically, if the FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine learns of a previously unreported condition from you, before they discover it, revocation of your airman certificate may be avoided. Still, the FAA will want to establish that you are eligible to hold an airman medical certificate, in light of the newly reported condition. Nevertheless, the career-ending effects of revocation can likely be avoided.

As with all things, there are caveats to corrective action. First, if the FAA has initiated an investigation regarding your underreporting or if the information is presented via response to a different inquiry, an “amendment” to your previous medical applications may not be accepted. The timing of such an “amendment” or corrective action is critical to the FAA’s handling of your case, so it is important that you consult with a FAA medical certification attorney prior to attempting to making any reports to the FAA.

If you have any unreported conditions on your airman medical application, you should contact a FAA medical certification attorney to discuss corrective action. These issues can be further discussed with the aviation attorney at The Ison Law Firm. If you are facing unreported conditions on your FAA medical application, help is only a phone call away: 1-855-FAA-1215.

Check out more, here:  https://thepilotlawyer.com/faa-medical/

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.

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