Deferred to FAA for Consideration

Good Morning Mentors!!

I have a question in regards to a 1st Class Medical that was deferred for FAA consideration. I took my physical on 1/19, all went great with the exception that the AME deferred due to a question about my migraines. They are not debilitating and I only get about 3 per year and can treat them with Excedrin Migraine. My question is this, once it is referred to the FAA for consideration how long does it take before I hear from them in regards to a determination or a request for additional information??

I would be happy to hear from anyone who may have gone thru a similar process for any medical issue.


This is what I’ve learned about it so far…
If you did no “pre-work” about your condition and submit any information from any previous doctors visits that mitigate that finding immediately after the AME deferral, it can take about 4 weeks for FAA to respond. If they don’t clear you immediately, they will assign you a PI number and request follow up exams. After the results of that are ready, expect 4-6 weeks for a response. After the initial issuance, in case you get a Special Issuance, you should expect to have an additional condition or test to go through annually but your AME would be able to make an Issuance determination without having to defer to OKC again. It’s not easy to navigate so if your AME is not helpful in getting this resolved, I recommend you join AOPA and their Pilot Protection Services to help you through the process. When you work for an airline, their representatives will handle any such issues…

Hi Charles,

It’s hard to put a number on it. The FAA moves very slowly. I can only
speak from personal experience. When my medical was deferred it took a few
weeks to receive instructions from the FAA about what extra tests were
required. Once my test results were sent to the FAA it took about 6 months
for them to review my results and mail my medical.


Thanks Sergey and Troy!! That was helpful! I’m just eager to get this straightened out so I can start flight school, it is the only thing holding me up now.

I haven’t been under a doctor’s care for my migraines since the early 2000s. Doctor had me do CT scans but nothing was ever found so since then I elected to just treat with the Excedrin Migraine. Like I said earlier, they aren’t debilitating I just get “irritable and grumpy” which my AME didn’t like!! His concern was how I would act with the other pilots if a migraine occurred while flying.

Anyway, guess I’ll sit tight and hope to hear something soon!!

Thanks again!


While I know when you say the headaches make you “irritable and grumpy” that may sound to like not a big deal to you it’s actually something the FAA takes very seriously and your AME did the right thing. Aviation has evolved significantly over the last 50 years and the concept of crew or team environment (CRM, Crew Resource Management) is now considered as important as stick and rudder skills. You may not be aware of this, but at the airline level you can fly your Maneuvers Validation perfect but when it comes to the LOE (Line Operation Experience, which is your Type Ride) get “irritable and grumpy” with your fellow crewmember and you can easily find yourself with a bust. Just FYI.


Hey! I went through my first class medical physical for the first time around the end of last summer/fall and had the same problem. I had to have my physician write a letter answering a few questions about my migraines for the FAA. Mine sound like yours in frequency and I just treat with Excedrin as well. I found the longest part was getting the letter from my physician. Once they received the letter I felt the FAA responded fairly quickly. And I was approved :slight_smile:

I was told that 1st class medicals get priority review by the FAA. Do you remember how long it took from submitting to the FAA till receiving the medical?

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I had my 1st class appointment mid August 2017, I received a letter requesting a physician follow up explanation on September 8. I immediately contacted my physician but there was a bit of a delay and confusion there with them getting it sent off. If I remember correctly they faxed it to the FAA towards the end of September and my 1st class medical is dated as being sent out October 5. If that helps!


Hey Charles, just wanted to offer another time frame experience on deferral.
I had my 1st class exam 09/26/2017
It was deferred. I got the letter that stated the requirements I needed to fulfill in late October. I had 60 days to send in the info. I over nighted everything mid December and just received my medical certificate January 25.

There’s no set time frame, some are faster than others. Just depends what all they request because they’re going to have to review all the info you send back.

Best wishes to you!!

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Camille and Layne,

Thank you both for providing your timelines in dealing with a deferral. As you can imagine I am, as I’m sure you were, eager to move this process forward. This is my last hurdle to starting flight school and at my age (51) every delay matters!! I’ve worked hard over the past 2 years to put myself in both a financial and physical position to fulfill this lifetime dream of mine. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that they send me a letter soon!!

Thanks again!!

This is all good information.
Having the same issue and just overnighted all the paperwork to the FAA with the letters and test requested. Seems to take a month for a response. You can always check up by calling the medical section in Oklahoma and they can tell you where in the process your application is.

Be prepared to wait…

My application for a first class medical was deferred on October 31st of 2017 and it finally got approved early February this year.

It took 3 months for them to make a decision and finally give me a special issuance. Thankfully, I have rescheduled with ATP and am starting May 7th. My original start date was supposed to be November 6th, 2017.

3 months. That’s exactly how long mine took. Late October to early February.

Hello everyone!!

Just wanted to give you an update on my deferral to the FAA for consideration.

As I stated in my original post, my first class physical was on Jan 19th. On Feb 25th I received my letter from the FAA stating what additional information they needed to make their determination, I also have to note here that I hit me for 2 items instead of just my migraines as I originally thought they would; they also noted my history of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). The IBS was easy to clear as I suffer (if you even want to say that) from a very mild case which is completely controlled by diet, no meds. The next step involved visiting my Neurologist, who after a complete exam felt comfortable writing a clearance letter.

I sent all the requested information back to the FAA on March 24th via USPS. On April 20th, upon checking my mail when I got home from work, my First Class Medical Certificate was in my hand!! Basically, exactly 3 months from the date of my original physical (Jan 19th) I received by medical clearance!!

I want to thank the mentors and those who have also dealt with deferrals for their advise, it really helped me with what to expect and how to handle the situation!!

I plan to start flight school in August and am looking forward to sharing the sky with all of you!!

Happy and safe flying!!



Glad everything worked out, Charles!


That’s great news! As with many things, your persistence paid off.


I just got deferred for Crohn’s. My AME gave me a checklist of items needed and then he’ll send off to OKC. All am I waiting on is a status and support letter from specialist and then it’s going to be overnighted.
AME said I should have no issues getting cleared. My condition is well documented and dormant. No issues for 2 years now. No meds. Hope I can get it within a month. Praying to the FAA gods lol

Hello everyone! My name is Ekom and I’m an international student currently attending school here in Colorado since last Summer. I got accepted into a pilot program at another school in Colorado and are scheduled to begin this Fall.
All your contributions and answers on this forum has been helpful to me. Thank you all !!

However, is there anyone out here who has been deferred because of their history of Cancer and/or Depression? I would love to hear your stories to know what my chances are for beginning my training this Fall.

I was deferred on January 5th, 2019 for my history of Clear Cell Sacorma (which I was cleared of last December but still do my 6-months scans to make sure I’m still clean). As a result of all the cancer treatments plus school work and just getting settled in a new country, I got a bit stressed out and was diagnosed with Mild Depression too. I was put on 20mg of Fluoxetine Daily but no longer use as my physician found my depression to have been a misdiagnosis, declaring me mentally alright. So when I mentioned my cancer history and mild depression on my 1st class Medical application, of course I was deferred!:wink:
On March 3rd, I received a letter from the FAA stating I needed to submit extra medical paperwork.
I just mailed back everything they listed (including a satisfactory note from my treating physician that I am depression-free after *more than 60 days off the SSRI) last week Friday, April 19th, 2019 and now just doing the waiting game.:slightly_smiling_face:

Any and all advice for me would be deeply appreciated. Many thanks!



For a variety of reasons, we are not able to discuss medical issues on this forum. It is best to go through the FAA’s process. Hopefully they will be able to clear you !


Hey Charles I am about to send off for Crohn’s.
Good news is I knew this was a deferral situation before I even went to AME. He gave me a checklist of items needed which included all history and a current status report with letter of support. Should have all my medical info soon and then the AME said he will expedite all of it. Did you find IBS was something very quick to get resolved if you had all paperwork?

I can’t start PPL training at home until I get my 1st Class in hand. Was hoping to have it and 80 hours by November so a long wait might push back my targeted ATP start date.