Recently, our firm has been asked about the FAA changing ADHD protocols to no longer require neuropsychological testing. Currently, the FAA protocol is that no matter when an applicant was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”), in order to achieve airman medical certification, the applicant must undertake neuropsychological evaluation with a HIMS-trained neuropsychologist. Whether the applicant has a childhood diagnosis or misdiagnosis of ADHD, the FAA still expects a neuropsychological evaluation to rule out any concern that the applicant has aeromedically significant cognitive deficiencies. Of course, we have seen cases where applicants have undertaken testing with a HIMS neuropsychologist, only to perform unsuccessfully on the testing. In doing so, the applicant risks being denied airman medical certification by the FAA due to cognitive deficiencies. Of course, it would be great if an applicant could avoid expensive, time consuming evaluation if his or her history of ADHD was remote or not legitimate. In this regard, there are rumors, however, that the FAA may be announce modifications to their application protocols for applicants with a history of ADHD. Specifically, there has been a rumor that such a protocol would allow individuals with childhood diagnoses or those with misdiagnoses to avoid neuropsychological testing and still achieve airman medical certification.
Our firm works with airmen on a daily basis who have either a historical or clinical diagnosis of ADHD. Due to our experience working with this condition and understanding of how the FAA perceives this condition, it is our position that changes to the FAA’s ADHD application protocols, if any, will not be wide sweeping. If the FAA changes ADHD protocols, our perception is that these changes would be very narrowly limited in scope. In that, we expect that if there are any changes in the FAA’s protocols, these changes will be similar to the FAA’s PTSD guidelines or situational depression guidelines, wherein an AME may be authorized to issue a medical certificate, without deferral, in the event the applicant met with very specific eligibility criteria. We do not expect this would be a protocol which would allow issuance to an ADHD applicant with a recent diagnosis or recent treatment with amphetamines.
Is the FAA changing ADHD protocols? Ultimately, if new protocols are created and revealed, we do not expect that those protocols would be announced until fall of 2023. Furthermore, while disappointing, we don’t believe any changes would be so significant that they would be significant to most applicants who currently have to undertake neuropsychological testing for their history of ADHD.