ADHD and Pilot Medical Certification

ADHD and Pilot Medical Certification

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Jackson Barnett

Principal Attorney

If you have ever been treated for ADHD and/or prescribed medication, even as a child, there are questions on the FAA Medical Application that may be confusing, or, you are not sure if they apply to you.

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.

A consultation with an aviation attorney can answer your questions, and inform you about the process for FAA medical certification with prior ADHD treatment.

ADHD Diagnosis and Medication

ADHD is a commonly misdiagnosed condition in young people.  As an adult, 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 the airman does not need to check that box on the application.  A conversation with an attorney can provide that guidance.

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:
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 – Standard vs. Fast Track

Fast Track – The FAA announced a new path for medical certification for applicants that meet certain criteria, called FAST TRACK.  Click the link to learn more about this new path.

Standard Track –  If the airman does not meet the new Fast Track criteria, AMEs are advised to “Do Not Issue” and the application must be deferred to the FAA for review. The FAA requires specific information for a medical application with prior ADHD treatment including, but not limited to:

  • visit with an AME
  • education transcripts
  • personal statement
  • all treatment records
  • driver history reports
  • pharmacy reports
  • neuropsychological evaluation

A neuropsychological evaluation is required. 

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.  Applicants must be off ADHD medication(s) for 90 days before neuropsychological testing and evaluation.

The responsibility of the neuropsychologist is to identify any neurocognitive deficit/impairment that has aeromedical significance. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is a condition that may be aeromedically disqualifying.

There are two test batteries:

INITIAL BATTERY – performed on everyone; and

  1. Background review – all treatment records; transcripts; drivers record; prior evaluation reports; hospitalization record for substance or psychiatric treatment; FAA medical records;
  2. Interview of references
  3. Administration of neuropsychological test
  4. 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.

Call us at 800-578-5512 or use the Contact Form. We look forward to hearing from you.