Real Answers from Real Pilots

Medical advice ADHD

From reading about others experiences dealing with a deferral due to an ADHD diagnosis virtually at any point in life I have some questions… I was diagnosed as a teenager and stopped taking adderall when I was 25. 32 now and honestly believe I was misdiagnosed from a small town doctor that seemed to have every single kid on something. Any way I know that this is not a deal breaker but well aware of what comes with a deferral with psychological evaluation to cog screen etc. Mostly the extra time it takes is my concern as well as cost but in that order. Don’t believe I will have any trouble passing these tests but here’s my question.s

  1. At what point does ATP require a first class medical if at all?

With that said assuming a 3rd class could get you through?

  1. Would I have the same or any issue obtaining a 3rd class do to ADHD?

  2. To not further delay my training would it be a good or bad idea to get 3rd class first so I can start and go for first after? If I have my 3rd class already would it be put on hold while a 1st class application is being deferred? As I know I cant get issued a 3rd class while 1st class is held up.

Lot’s of questions but certainly appreciate any wisdom on the subject.

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Jeff,

First of all ATP requires a First Class Medical because the airlines do and you need to know that you can obtain one before you invest in your career. If you open ATP’s website they explain when the medical is required to be in hand. It should be under prerequisites or admissions requirements. So, if that’s the goal, I wouldn’t even bother with a 3rd Class.

Tory

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Jeff,

EVERY case is different so you can’t assume it’s not a “deal breaker”. You want to be certain you can obtain your First Class before you invest your time and money (that’s the reason for ATPs prerequisite).

You need to consult an AME.

Adam

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Jeff,

You will need to have a valid First Class Medical in hand on the day that you start training with ATP. As Tory mentioned, the airlines require a First Class Medical; so that is the standard that we have set for our students. There is no need to get the Third Class.

Addison

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This is what I thought, just hate the unknown and thought if for some reason I can’t get first class at all makes me want to cry… I know every case is different so I know I can’t 100% assume I’ll be fine. From what I already know I have a clean bill of health and believe the ADHD will be a guaranteed deferral and result in the HIMS AME psyche eval. Just hope it doesn’t take too long I wanted to start ATP in April but realize that most likely won’t be able to happen… :disappointed_relieved: I just wanna fly!

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Anything that’s not “perfect” will always get a deferral by the FAA based on my observations from other student’s experience on here. And yes, it is quite the process and takes months.

Since this happened 7 years ago, and if you were not on any drugs since then, maybe they’d be more leniant about it? No one here is the FAA/an AME.

So yeah, don’t lose hope, and just apply for a medical. Good luck.

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Jeff,

I can relate. For those that have gone through the deferral process, myself included, it’s frustrating, but worth it in the end.

Tory

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Thanks for the responses. I appreciate all the responses from you guys and your shared wisdom. I’m going to begin the process asap.

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Also wanted to ask, since it appears given my circumstances that I inevitably will be deferred and probably have to do a psychological evaluation if not more…
Is the psyche eval considered part of HIMS? Then with the assumption that that’s what’s going to happen would it be wise to seek out a HIMS AME from the get go or does it not work that way? Just want to save as much time as possible. Thanks

Jeff,

I’m no expert, but since HIMS is actually defined as an occupational “substance abuse treatment program” I don’t believe you’d fall into that category.

As always you need to speak with an AME.

Adam

One more question. So clearly before starting ATP I need a first class medical. Do you know if ADHD is taken so seriously for a 3rd class medical? Don’t get me wrong the ultimate goal is to be a commercial pilot but the dream has always been simply to fly and someday own a plane so that being said I am not going to sit still and work on my writtens and I guess take the time wisely in hopes it all works out. Hoping worst case scenario for me I can at least get my ppl and stick with contracting.

Jeff,

You will really need to reach out to a FAA doctor with these questions, regardless of the class of medical. We are simply not able to accurately answer any medically related questions.

Chris

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Hi Jeff,

I was in (almost) your exact position before I started ATP. So here’s some info I learned that you might benefit from:

  1. If you can’t get a first class medical, your investment in training isn’t worth it. Every airline and most private companies require first class medicals for their pilots.

  2. You can get a first class medical. It will require an AME willing to spend more time on your case, as well as a HIMS examination and Cogscreen. Then the AME will take the results of the HIMS examination and send your whole packet to the regional flight surgeon, who will most likely defer it to OKC. I went through this process, and it took about 9 months pre-covid.

  3. I emailed Bruce Chien (aeromedicaldoc) and he referred me to an AME who specializes in difficult cases closer to me (mine was in Atlanta). I needed to get all of my medical history, including dates I took meds, and send all of that data to my AME. After that, I got scheduled for a Cogscreen, and finally my packet got sent off to OKC. It took about 6 months for OKC to move, but I finally got my medical back with no restrictions. It is possible, and if you have access to your old doctor’s records it will help.

  4. This will cost a lot of money (much like anything in aviation). Just a warning.

Good luck, and hopefully everything comes through!

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I am in your exact position right now, did you ever get in and how long did it take

While my deferral was for something completely different it took me 10 months if that helps you get an idea?

Tory

Hello,

My name is Kristi. My son, Troy, is a Senior in high school and wants to be a pilot. He will be soloing next week. He was prescribed ADHD meds this past summer. In the future will he be denied 1st class medical? He is only 17 years old. How far back can they see?

Hi Kristi,

You, actually it’s best if your son, need(s) to contact his AME about this question. None of us are qualified to answer.

Given the nature of this conversation, however, worst case scenario your son might have to voluntarily surrender his medical certificate until he completes the required testing requested by the FAA.

Lastly, the FAA doesn’t “look back” at a pilot’s medical history. The pilot discloses their medical history on their medical certificate application form. Withholding, covering up, hiding, etc. any information is subject to fines and permanent loss of the medical certificate.

I strongly encourage that your son come forward about his new medication.

Tory

Kristi,

It is not a question of how far back they can see, but what the FAA asks for. Questions must be answered truthfully or the airmen faces revocation of their certificates should the FAA discover they were untruthful.

You should check with a FAA medical examiner for an official answer, only they are qualified to answer this question.

Chris

Thank you.

Kristi,

As the others have said, that is really a question for an AME and it’s imperative your son answer honestly. While the FAA doesn’t look back, they do periodically audit applications and if there a discrepancy or missing information that could cost him his career.

After he reports that he has been on the meds the AME will be required to turn it over to the FAA and then it’s in their hands.

Adam