Do you have questions about your FAA medical and VA disability reconciliation? The FAA’s Office of Aerospace Medicine has started sending military veterans who are receiving VA disability benefits, letters offering “reconciliation” of potentially false answers to Form 8500-8, application for airman medical certificate. Essentially, these “reconciliation letters” are offering airmen who meet certain, unidentified criteria, an opportunity to correct their application(s) for FAA medical certification, in cases where the airman has not previously reported VA disability benefits and/or related medical conditions. For example, if you are an airman who has not reported your receipt of VA disability benefits at question 18y. on your Form 8500-8, application for airman medical certificate, the FAA may offer you an opportunity to “reconcile” your omissions. In doing so, you may very well be able to avoid revocation of all your certificates, to include your hard-earned airman certificates, for what the FAA considers “intentional falsification.”
Within the FAA medical and VA disability reconciliation letters, our firm is tracking where the FAA is instructing airmen to present to their Aviation Medical Examiner to submit a new medical application by a specified date. Current letters that our firm is seeing states the following:
“As part of this reconciliation process, all First Class Airman Medical Certificate holders must submit a new medical application and schedule an appointment with an Aviation Medical Examiner (“AME”) when their current medical certificate expires or no later than July 31, 2023, whichever is earlier. Second and Third Class Airman Medical Certificate holders must submit a new medical application and schedule an appointment with their AME when their current medical certificate expires or no later than January 31, 2024, whichever is earlier.”
This appears to be excellent news and perhaps the implementation of an amnesty program for VA disability benefit recipients, who have not appropriately reported their receipt of VA disability benefits on their FAA medical application(s). With that being said, however, it is unclear if this reconciliation process will last and which airmen will be eligible for this program. It is important to note that if an airman has not accurately reported a history of receiving VA disability benefits to the FAA, there are also opportunities to amend previous application(s) before the FAA takes action. Requesting an amendment to your FAA medical application(s) to reflect previously undisclosed VA disability benefits and/or medical conditions should always be your first line of defense, if eligible.
It should also be noted that once an airman submits a new application through his or her AME in response to the VA reconciliation process, it is likely that the airman’s application will be deferred to the FAA for further review. What does this mean for the airman? Depending on which medical condition(s) you are reporting on your FAA medical application, your AME may not be able to issue you a new medical certificate. Instead, the FAA will need to review your records, require evaluation, and take other steps to ensure that you can be issued a new medical certificate.
Why involve a FAA attorney with your FAA medical and VA disability reconciliation? Despite what you may hear from other pilots, 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 colitis, 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.
If you have questions about FAA medical and VA disability reconciliation, 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.