FAA Medical Denied Because of Previous Suicide Attempts

  • ON Jun 06, 2021
  • /
  • BY Anthony Ison
  • /
  • IN Pilot Law

Is your FAA medical denied because of previous suicide attempts? Having a history of suicide attempts is not one of the specifically disqualifying conditions found in 14 C.F.R. Part 67. In other words, you will not find a specific provision within the Federal Aviation Regulations which specifically states that if you have had a history of suicide attempts, that you do not qualify for an airman medical certificate (no matter whether you are applying for a first-, second-, or third-class certificate). Instead, the FAA typically relies upon a “catch all” regulation to support a potential denial for an application with a history of previous suicide attempts. That regulation is 14 C.F.R. 67.107 (for first-class certificates), 14 C.F.R. 67.207 (for second-class certificates), and 14 C.F.R. 67.307 (for third-class certificates. Across all classes of certificates, the wording of the regulation is the same: “[the applicant must not have] a personality disorder, neurosis, or other mental condition that the Federal Air Surgeon, based on the case history and appropriate, qualified medical judgment relating to the condition involved, finds – (1) makes the person unable to safely perform the duties or exercise the privileges of the airman certificate applied for or held; or (2) 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.”

Typically, the analysis becomes a question of whether a history of previous suicide attempts rises to the level of a “mental health condition,” which the Federal Air Surgeon can find makes you unable to safely operate within the National Airspace System. Consequently, the task then becomes presenting an argument to the Federal Air Surgeon that based upon all of your relevant medical records, evaluation by qualified physicians, and assessment for future risk, that you are qualified to exercise the privileges of an airman.

With a history of previous suicide attempts, the presentation to the FAA may be multi-faceted, in that there will be several issues to sort through: was your suicide attempt(s) the results of an underlying medical condition (such as major recurrent depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.), were you hospitalized for the suicide attempt(s), were you treated with any medication (also, are you still taking medication), what is your current status (how long ago was your suicide attempt(s))? Ultimately, the task will be to present an appropriate argument to the FAA, if able, that your suicide attempts were the result of an underlying situation, which is now either in sufficient remission, without risk for future recurrence, or, that perhaps that your history of previous suicide attempt(s) has been exaggerated in your medical records. Each underlying condition and element will have to be appropriately addressed with the Federal Air Surgeon, however, so that you do not invite a denial for the underlying condition (such as depression).

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. Specifically, 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 previous suicide attempts? 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.

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