I'm in the middle of a medical struggle with the FAA. I'm applying for a 3rd class medical certificate but was hit with a deferral letter due to a childhood ADD diagnosis. Currently the FAA is only asking for:

  1. "A personal statement regarding my ADD history and medication use."
  2. "All treatment records and evaluation from the physician who prescribed the ADD medications in the past."

My question is this - does the FAA require a neuropsychological battery test for all applicants with an ADD history, or is their requesting a testing battery contingent upon what I say in my personal statement and the included treatment records / evaluations?

My treatment records and physician evaluation conclude that I no longer have ADD symptoms. In addition, I've flown intensively with a United Airlines check airman (pilot responsible for evaluating the flight ability of other United Airline pilots) and he has written a letter stating he's seen no evidence of ADD and, in his professional opinion, I am qualified to pilot an airplane.

Do you think, after submitting this documents in my favor, I will be able to avoid undergoing the testing battery?

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    $\begingroup$ "...is their requesting a testing battery contingent upon what I say in my personal statement..." A clue, Sherlock. I get the feeling you broke the cardinal rule of dealing with FAA Aeromedical -- never, ever tell them what they don't need to know. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 4:24
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Juan - I'm a little confused about your response. Are you saying that their requesting a battery is or is not dependent on what I ultimately submit in my personal statement. I didn't break the "cardinal rule" because I haven't told them anything yet.... $\endgroup$
    – WalkerT
    Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 4:35
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    $\begingroup$ This: "...because I haven't told them anything yet.." is the opposite of this "I'm in the middle of a medical struggle with the FAA." Hmm. Anyway, ask your AME what to put in the statement. If the AME has no experience dealing with applicants with past history of ADD, find a different AME who does. Contact AOPA as well for additional guidance. If you are not a member, become one now. You will likely need that help. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 4:43
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    $\begingroup$ Ask an AME, not an internet message board. That's the answer to nearly every question on here about "I have ___, can I get a medical". We aren't AME's, and what happened to this or that poster or 'somebody I knew who had ___' isn't all that relevant unless all the details of their case match yours. Answers to questions that a non-AME wouldn't know to ask you can make a big difference. Get authoritative answers from an experienced flight doc; there is nothing more than that which we can tell you about your medical case that's worth the electrons it's written on. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 5:20
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    $\begingroup$ I'll bet your original childhood diagnosis was bogus, and you were just a high energy, fidgety kid. This is a crisis in my view. My mother used to constantly get on my case (in a light hearted way) of me picking things up to examine them ("you're always fidgeting with things!"). I'm lucky that this was the mid 60s and not the mid 90s, or i probably would have been labelled an ADHD case. And I'm still constantly fidgeting with things... $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 17:43

1 Answer 1


If you have ever in your life been diagnosed with any mental health condition, such as ADD/ADHD, then the FAA presumes you to be mentally defective until proven otherwise to their satisfaction, by their own experts at your expense. They do not care what your personal doctor says, or what other pilots say.

You will need to get evaluations from a HIMS Psychiatrist and/or HIMS Neuropsychologist, which will likely take you months to arrange since there are only a few in the entire country. Then you will need a HIMS AME to process the paperwork and send it to OKC, which will spend a few months reviewing it to make sure the file is complete. Then your file will be sent to DC, where it will sit on the Federal Air Surgeon’s desk for several more months before he reviews your file. If all goes well, he will issue a Special Issuance medical, conditional on renewing the above evaluations every 6 or 12 months until he is eventually convinced you are mentally stable enough for a regular medical certificate. That may take up to 10 years, depending on your exact condition.

If your AME is not a HIMS AME, they will have no idea how this process works or what paperwork is required, so switch now and save yourself months of wasted time and money.

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    $\begingroup$ That kind of uphill climb would be enough to motivate me to stick to Part 103. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnK Or a motorglider. No medical needed, period. Interesting bit of trivia: The FAA regs do not specify any requirements to classify an aircraft as an experimental amateur-build motorglider. Think about that for a sec. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 1:25
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnK It’s a contributing factor to the (pre-COVID) US pilot shortage given how many people under ~35 were misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD. But the new Federal Air Surgeon (Jan 2021) has claimed she will fix this process. I hope in a year or two I can edit this answer... $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 16:37

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