Does the FAA Medical Exam for a medical certificate qualify as a Medical Expense per IRS Publication 502 (thus allowing one to deduct the expense, or utilize a Health Savings Account (HSA)/Flexible Spending Account (FSA))?

One possible way to have the medical exam qualify as a medical expense would be to have a standard physical exam and the FAA medical exam together (which might also let you claim it with your health insurance).

Is this interpretation correct or consistent with your experience?

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    $\begingroup$ Your question title is asking about the IRS, i.e. is the medical tax-deductible? But the AME quote is about claiming the costs from your insurance company. Those are totally different things. I assume you're asking about the tax issue because that's - in theory - the same for everyone, whereas the insurance question depends on your policy so it isn't really answerable. Is that correct? If so, I suggest you remove the AME quote to avoid confusion. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Mar 26, 2015 at 23:21
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. I've edited my question to reflect the primary focus (is it qualified medical expense for the IRS?) but also kept the pointer to billing insurance (for those interested). $\endgroup$
    – calvin
    Mar 26, 2015 at 23:36
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    $\begingroup$ FWIW, during the 30 years I was flying professionally, I always claimed it as a job related expense, and I was never audited. $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Mar 27, 2015 at 3:58

2 Answers 2


If you're asking whether you can pay for one with an HSA or FSA, then yes, physical exams are eligible expenses, though consult with your insurance provider first if they are covered by your plan.

Physical Examination

You can include in medical expenses the amount you pay for an annual physical examination and diagnostic tests by a physician. You do not have to be ill at the time of the examination.

If you're looking to add it to a list of itemized deductions, as Pondlife explained, it generally has to be business- or workplace related. If you are a professional pilot, then this is deductible.

What Can I Deduct?

To be deductible, a business expense must be both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business. An expense does not have to be indispensable to be considered necessary.

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    $\begingroup$ i would keep in mind that it's inappropriate to exclude things twice - your hsa/fsa spending is already not taxed, as contributions made to it are already deductible, so you can't reduce your taxable income further by claiming an individual expense a second time. $\endgroup$
    – Erich
    Mar 27, 2015 at 4:03
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    $\begingroup$ For those without HSA/FSAs, you would be able to deduct the physical exam as a medical expense (provided that your total medical expenditure exceeds 10% of AGI or 7.5% of AGI if you are over 65). Having an HSA/FSA means you don't have to worry whether you can deduct it or not: it would be paid for with pre-tax money already set aside for qualified medical expenses. $\endgroup$
    – calvin
    Mar 27, 2015 at 18:41

It looks like if you're a professional pilot then yes (it's an unavoidable expense for your job). Otherwise, no (probably, see disclaimer below):

Flights in the first three categories [including for FAA medicals] were clearly personal, reflecting petitioner’s family or personal obligations, personal finances, or love of flying

And this from AOPA:

The first thing you'll notice in these regulations is that your flight training expenses will be deductible only if they are trade or business related. Therefore, if your flying is purely personal in nature, you will not be able to take a tax deduction for flight training expenses.

Admittedly that talks about training, not medical expenses, but a medical is required unless you're a sport pilot so it seems to apply.

Disclaimer: I'm not a tax attorney, if you want an answer that will stand up in court than ask someone who is :-)

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    $\begingroup$ Your first link says that it could be written off as a business expense, not as a medical expense. Also, in the case you mention, petitioner claimed the medical exams as business expenses (though I suspect if he thought he had a chance he would have claimed it as medical, so you might have a point there). $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2015 at 2:11

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