I hope everyone is doing swell in these trying times and I thank you all for the hard work you all do in answering all questions here. I have a question of my own, If ANYONE here, is a student who is in the HIMS AME process trying to get approved for flight school by the FAA due to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, PLEASE contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The HIMS AME providers are not helpful whatsoever and require a $750 starting fee to start helping you and then $500 per hour. That is a very pricey fee and I shall only pay that when I absolutely need their help. If someone can answer a few questions I have and walk me through the process a bit, I shall be eternally grateful.
Thank you all, please stay safe during this pandemic.
You might want to contact the AOPA. While membership isn’t free, I’ve heard they can be very helpful in matters. That said at some point you will need a HIMS AME.
Based on your earlier posts, you absolutely need their help. The FAA takes depression and anxiety very seriously, you need professional guidance.
The thing is, that if you are applying for a medical certificate with a history of depression and anxiety, you do “absolutely need their help.” There is no way around it (that I know of).
What do you mean when you say that HIMS AMEs aren’t helpful? From my experience, they aren’t responsible for issuing your medical certificate. They aren’t responsible for telling you what you need to do either. From my experience, if you apply for a medical certificate, your application is deferred to the Surgeon General. The FAA then mails you a packet of instructions for you to complete. You will then need to complete the instructions exactly as described (which will cost you more money) AND THEN you present the info to a HIMS AME. The HIMS AME then reviews your test results from all of the healthcare professionals and then makes a recommendation to the FAA. Then you wait for the FAA to review your application and if you pass your medical certificate will be mailed to you.
If you have a diagnosis of ADHD or Depression, and are currently medicated, getting a medical will be very difficult. Check out this link https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/aam/ame/guide/app_process/exam_tech/item47/amd/table/ for more info. I went through the HIMS process, but was medication free and stable for 10 years.
The place to start is this form: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/aam/ame/guide/media/Airman_Information_SSRI_Initial_Certification.pdf which will tell you what you need to provide your AME and the HIMS examiner.
Going through the HIMS process costed me in the mid 4 figures. Your costs will vary.
What I did was consult several HIMS AMEs to gather as much info and determine their strategies before I paid any of them. They are not known to be the best communicators, so it can be confusing and take a while.
I’m the end, I paid one what they wanted, followed their advice and ended up receiving my cert relatively quickly with no special issuance. My situation was different than yours, but what made the difference was what I did BEFORE actually applying for the cert, and all this came from the direction of the AME. I don’t see how I could’ve done it without one.
Best of luck.
Disclaimer: I’m just a pilot who went through the process without a HIMS AME
I don’t think there’s an easy or cheap way around this with those diagnoses. I unfortunately went into my initial application blindly and listed ADHD and Depression without knowing better. The process took about a year and $6000 ($4000 for an Aeromedical Psychologist and $2000 for a HIMS Psychiatrist) for my special issuance. I also have to see a psychiatrist for a report to give to an AME for my certificate renewal each year.
If you are still taking an approved anti-depressant, you probably will need to deal with a HIMS AME. As others have stated, join AOPA and their pilot protection services can offer guidance.
If you are no longer on medication and have been off for at least 6 months, you shouldn’t need a HIMS AME to start the special issuance process. At least I didn’t. What you WILL need is to see a HIMS trained psychiatrist to prepare a report for the FAA regarding your suitability to hold a cert.
Assuming you’ve been off medication for more than 6 months and have no current symptoms of depression, here is what I would do.
- Retrieve all of the medical records that pertain to your diagnoses of depression and anxiety. That includes diagnosis and treatment history. Have copies available
- Schedule an appointment with an AME - preferably one that has experience with special issuance medicals
- Fill out your MedXPress
- Bring those medical records with you to the appointment for the AME to send with your file
- Wait a month for the letter from the FAA.
- You’ll either get a letter requesting more information OR a letter stating you are ineligible due to medical history. Ironically, the ineligibility letter starts the next step
- If you receive the ineligibility letter, it will say you can reply requesting further consideration. DO THIS.
- Wait probably another month
- The FAA will then send you a letter requiring you to submit a report from a HIMS psychiatrist and possibly an aeromedical psychologist as well as further instructions
- Find the applicable doctors with experience in dealing with the FAA. They’ll also require medical history documentation, so have those copies ready
- They’ll send their reports to the FAA after evaluating you. Make sure they include the applicant IDs from the letters the FAA have sent you
- Once they’ve sent their reports, call the FAA’s Medical Certification division regularly (not more than once a day) to check on the status of your application
- Wait 1-2 months while calling regularly
- If the evaluations proved favorable, you should receive your special issuance
What you could potentially do to expedite this process is to find a HIMS psychiatrist before seeing an AME so you could have the psych’s report ready to go at the first step. No guarantee this will speed it up or the psychiatrist would perform the evaluation without a letter from the FAA.
Hopefully that helps. I understand it’s frustratingly slow and complicated, but you’ll get through it.
Thank you for adding your insights about this.
I shall do just that. Thank you!! Happy new year!!
I apologize, I should have worded my statements better. I am aware that I absolutely need their help, I am just saying I will take their help, when I need to and not a moment before. This is due to their high pricing, which starts at 500 per hour. No worries, I will go about this procedure with determination and 100% legality, hopefully the FAA approves me. Happy new year!!!
I am aware that I need their help, I will go to them when I need to and not a moment before since they charge very high prices such as 500 per hour. I am merely gathering my wits and my paperwork and establishing a plan before beginning so I can go about this process smoothly with no hiccups. The 3 HIMS AME in my area refused to answer questions without me signing off on papers saying I agree to pay them 500 dollars. One HIMS AME specifically told me he does not like helping anyone who isnt his patient so they can come into his office confused so he can explain everything from scratch and make them spend more time which means more money. So I am rather upset due to the lack of help, which made me turn to this site. I appreciate your detailed response, Happy new year!!!
I am familiar with and already midway into that process, I waited six months and now I am stable on my SSRI for over six months and it is celexa and is approved by the FAA. The step I am stuck on is my psychiatrist is not board certified and I cannot find a neuropyshologist near me for all the neurological testing. Can you PLEASE contact me via email@example.com so we can talk more about this? You seem to have a case very similar to mine. I would greatly appreciate it.
I am still on my medication, But it is celexa, which is approved by the FAA. I have been on it for more than six months and am very stable and am doing much better. During those six months I was doing lots of research so I am semi aware of my next step. The next step is the step I am stuck on. My pyschiatrist is NOT board certified and I cannot find a neuropyschologist to guide me through the neurological testing they want me to get done. Any advice on this? The HIMS AME in my area require tons of cash before helping me so I am very stuck. Please guide me. Happy new year.
I’m not 100% sure on this, but to me it looks like you’re going at this the wrong way. It appears as though you are trying to get all of your tests done BEFORE applying for a medical. Of course the neuropsychologist doesn’t know what test to give you because they don’t understand your situation. You can’t just walk into the office and ask a neuropsych, “Please give me a test for a First Class Medical Certificate please.” They don’t deal with these kinds of things on a regular basis.
As I suggested before, you should apply for a First Class medical through a normal AME, let them defer it to the FAA, wait for the letter from the FAA to be mailed to you, and then take that letter to the neuropsych and every other doctor the FAA wants you to see. Once the doctors read the letter, they’ll know what to do.
Upon doing research and calling up multiple places, it seems that yes, what you are saying is true and is the correct way to go. However, it seems weird, does it not? Apply for a 1st class medical when you know for a fact it will be deferred? I had thought to get the tests done and send the application together, so instead of deferring it, they will have all paperwork needed, however, I was wrong, you were right. Thank you for the clarification! Have a blessed weekend!
I’m glad you now know what to do. I know it seems weird, but there is no way around the deferral process. It is standard procedure for these types of situations. These AMEs are merely acting on behalf of the FAA, not as the FAA.
Thank you for the rapid response! I appreciate it. So I had my AME visit earlier this week and did my 1st class medical. The AME told me it would obviously get deferred, (since I have depression and anxiety and have been on celexa for 10+ months) but he also told me that the FAA would send me a list of instructions which would have a list of questions/forms my primary care doctor and psychiatrist would answer, and I would forward those forms/answers to the FAA and get my 1st class medical. He told me he had a few patients who had my exact mental illness and did NOT have to through a HIMS AME. He said the patients he had that had multiple mental illnesses or a history of alcohol abuse or misdemeanors or medication withdrawals, were the ones that had to visit the HIMS AME. **So my question is, is it true that I can just get my first class being medical without going to the HIMS AME, like this doctor stated, even though I have mental illnesses?**Is this true? Please let me know. Thank you.
Franciso (Am I spelling that right? Or is it Francisco?),
I am glad that you have begun the process, but I have to be honest I do not think that I am the best person to provide you with that kind of affirmation. I am not an AME. So, I don’t know if it is possible. It either is or it isn’t. If your AME says it is, why would you not trust them on that? That is your best source of information right now. I was simply sharing my personal experience as it relates to yours. This is now your experience. You will have to see where it takes you from here.
I know how badly you don’t want to get involved in the HIMS AME process, but you must realize that if the FAA requires that you do, there is a good reason for it. I know it MAY be costly, but the FAA has valid reasons. Being a pilot comes with great responsibility. Better to do what the FAA asks of you because if you don’t it gives them a reason to suspect that you may be hiding something.
Once you get on the other side of this, this will be a distant memory. It’s been 7 years since I went through this process and I have to say that it feels so good knowing that I disclosed all of my medical history and the FAA has determined that I am worthy of holding my medical. Going through the process 7 years ago wasn’t fun, but it was the only way.
Hi, so I recently saw my AME and I was on prozac for a few months during covid but stopped it upon hearing the struggle it can give when getting my medical cert (I want to start flight school in a few months). My AME said that I just need a note that I have been off the medication for 60 days and am medically and mentally stable (SSRI decision path I per the website). But the FAA mailed me saying I need to see a HIMS AME which goes against what their website says (Tony understanding that the SSRI decision path II). Any tips?
My tip would be to follow what the FAA says. This is not an entity that you get to negotiate with. They looked at your medical history and decided that decision path II is the way they want to evaluate your application, so that is the way it will be.
You have to remember that prozac, or any other mind altering medicine, is not to be taken lightly and will require scrutiny from the FAA.