ADHD and Pilot Medical Certification prompts many questions from airmen. Many pilots we work with learn about the FAA’s restrictions associated with prior ADHD treatment or diagnosis only after they have started the application process, and are surprised by the stringent process for certification. Oftentimes, significant money has been spent on flying lessons by the time medical certification becomes a question.
Our clients include young students in aviation programs at universities, who have just discovered they have a problem obtaining medical certification, as well as professionals who take the medication as a performance enhancing tool.
If you have ever been treated for ADHD and/or prescribed medication, you probably have questions on whether you can obtain a FAA medical certificate. You may need to disclose your past treatment on the FAA’s medical application.
A consultation with an aviation attorney can answer your questions, and determine if your prior treatment for ADHD and Pilot Medical Certification is possible for you.
Automatic Disqualification vs. Aeromedically Significant Diagnosis
ADHD is a commonly mis-diagnosed condition in young people. Treatment without a clinical diagnosis, is not an automatically disqualifying condition for obtaining a medical certificate from the FAA. It is not uncommon for an individual to have been prescribed medication, without a ADHD Diagnosis. A Primary Care Physician may have prescribed ADHD meds for performance enhancing reasons only. A pediatrician or primary care physician that prescribes ADHD medications, may not constitute an aeromedically significant condition.
In the eyes of the FAA, an aeromedically significant diagnosis of ADHD is determined by a HIMS Neuropsychologist through testing and evaluation.
To Disclose or Not Disclose
If an individual has never been a diagnosed for ADHD, and is not currently taking medication, it is possible there may not be a reporting requirement.
If a pilot decides not to disclose prior ADHD treatment on their medical application, at any point in their flying future, if that information becomes known, the pilot may face legal action by the FAA. An unforeseen medical situation, pharmacy records, insurance records, or a hotline call are all potential sources of the FAA discovering an unreported condition or past treatment.
There are two important questions on The MedXpress application (form 8500) airman medical application that disclose potential ADHD treatment and/or medications:
Question 17a: Do You Currently Use Any Medication (Prescription or Nonprescription)?:
Question 18 asks:
HAVE YOU EVER IN YOUR LIFE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH, HAD, OR DO YOU PRESENTLY HAVE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING?
l. Neurological disorders; epilepsy, seizures, stroke, paralysis, etc.
m. Mental disorders or any sort; depression, anxiety, etc.
The following note is included in Appendix A for the MedXPress application:
NOTICE – Intentional falsification may result in federal criminal prosecution. Intentional falsification may also result in suspension or revocation of all airman, ground instructor, and medical certificates and ratings held by you, as well as denial of this application for medical certification.
The Certification Process for ADHD
AMEs are advised to “Do Not Issue” medical certificates to airmen on ADHD medication. The application must be deferred to the FAA for review.
Commonly-prescribed Disqualifying ADHD Meds you cannot take if you want to fly:
The FAA requires specific information for a medical application with prior ADHD treatment:
1. AME Exam In Person
If you have stopped taking ADHD/ADD medication(s), you must be off the medication(s) for 90 days before neuropsychological testing and evaluation.
2. A neuropsychological evaluation is required.
Why? Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), formerly called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and medications used for treatment may result in cognitive deficits that would make an airman unsafe to perform pilot duties.
The responsibility of the neuropsychologist is to identify any neurocognitive deficit/impairment that has aeromedical significance. AttentionDeficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is a condition that may be aeromedically disqualifying.
There are two test batteries:
INITIAL BATTERY – performed on everyone; and
- Background review – all treatment records; transcripts; drivers record; prior evaluation reports; hospitalization record for substance or psychiatric treatment; FAA medical records;
- Interview of references
- Administration of neuropsychological test
- Drug screening test
SUPPLEMENTAL BATTERY – performed when the Initial Battery indicates a potential problem.
Upon receipt of the above evaluations and information from your AME, the FAA will review your application and make a determination to issue a medical certificate.
How We Can Help – ADHD and Pilot Medical Certification
Our attorneys will represent you and provide legal services, consultation, negotiation, research, and appropriate reporting, all in the pursuit of obtaining and/or preserving your FAA medical certificate. Additionally, we have the resources and connections to assist each pilot in navigating this complicated process. Our experience has provided us with valuable contact references so we can get you to the AME with the experience to manage your particular situation. Additionally, in the event further evaluations are required, we can assist in preparing each pilot to increase the likelihood of a good result. Our experience has shown that working with expert AMEs can greatly reduce the amount of time spent obtaining a pilot’s medical certificate.
Get your questions answered.
Contact us to speak with an aviation attorney for a confidential consultation.