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Thread: Medical Delay?

  1. #1

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    Medical Delay?

    A month ago, I went to the AME to get my third class medical. Because I have (mild, diagnosed, and treated) sleep apnea, he referred it to the FAA, and told me to expect a letter from them in two to three weeks. It has now been over four weeks, and I have not heard anything. Is the FAA backed up that much, or should I be concerned that something got lost somewhere in the process?

  2. #2
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    Yes, they are. They're running many MONTHS in the initial queue.

    Your AME is an idiot. It's never been "a few weeks" on deferrals. The fastest the FAA ever came is about 12 weeks. It's running much longer than that now. They're standard level of service is supposed to be eight weeks, but they have NEVER achieved that.

    What you'll get is a letter asking for a dump from your CPAP showing compliance with using it plus a status report from your doctor which must include some magic words (seems well rested, no complaint of daytime sleapyness, no sign of right heart failure). If your AME was savvy, he would have told you that you needed these things BEFORE you started the appointment.

    As for verifying your paperwork being at the FAA, you can inquire at (405) 954-4821. You should call early central time for the best chance of getting through the phone queue.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThomRose View Post
    A month ago, I went to the AME to get my third class medical. Because I have (mild, diagnosed, and treated) sleep apnea, he referred it to the FAA, and told me to expect a letter from them in two to three weeks. It has now been over four weeks, and I have not heard anything. Is the FAA backed up that much, or should I be concerned that something got lost somewhere in the process?
    Yes, they are running behind. You're going to get a form like the one I attached. When you send it in with the required info, it could take 2 months before you get a SI medical. That's if everything is in order and you submit all the necessary information first time around. If you become pen pals with the FAA it will take longer.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  4. #4
    EAA Staff Tom Charpentier's Avatar
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    The FAA generally takes about a month to render a decision on medicals, and that can stretch out a bit if the system is stressed (as it is now). That said, OSA is one of the easiest special issuances to certify so it should hopefully take a minimum of time once you have your paperwork in.

    Four weeks is a little long to not get a follow-up letter. I would try contacting your regional flight surgeon's office. The regions are often easier to reach than OKC and have access to the same system, so they can confirm if and what has been sent. On easy cases, they can sometimes render a decision on OKC's behalf, so they're a good resource (my SI was issued by the Great Lakes RFS).
    Tom Charpentier
    Government Relations Director
    EAA #1082006

  5. #5
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    Really, Tom? For non-revenue aviatiors? When has the FAA respoonded to initial deferrals in four weeks? It hasn't happened in the thirty years I've been flying. The fastest they ever they turned things around was around eight weeks and that was years ago. You spend months in the queue to get the initial "you may not meet the requirements" letter. Once you're file is active on someone's desk, then things usually go pretty quickly (though submissions got slowed down after the anthrax mail scare causes everything now to go through an extra layer of handling)

  6. #6
    EAA Staff Tom Charpentier's Avatar
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    It really depends on the condition, the AME, and whether the applicant has already done their homework (which feeds back to the AME being on top of things). Routine initial AASI cases like apnea and non-insulin diabetes can be turned around fairly quickly, in fact a good AME can sometimes gain authorization over the phone during an office visit if the applicant has all of the required info.

    The big exception is anything cardiac, neurological, and (I think) mental. The FAA uses consultants to determine those cases, and the consultants only meet a few times a month. Cardiac cases tend to stretch out to 2-3 months (once all required info is in), and initial certifications on neurological cases are long ordeals in many more ways than one. But yes, when the system is working well, I've seen well-prepared SI applications for things like apnea and type II diabetes go through to issuance in about a month.

    I will reiterate that one of the best things you can do in a case like this is to call the region. Apnea is a very simple SI that is almost always successful with proof of treatment, so they may be amenable to helping you along.
    Last edited by Tom Charpentier; 09-10-2020 at 08:42 AM.
    Tom Charpentier
    Government Relations Director
    EAA #1082006

  7. #7
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    AASI isn't the same thing as having your stuff deferred. Hasn't AASI dried up for non-revenue airmen?

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    An update

    Just so everyone now has a point of reference, I today received my letter from the FAA medical office requesting the followup information. So, it was a total of about five weeks for a response.

  9. #9

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    And now, to close the loop, I just received my medical certificate. Thank you to everyone who commented, and a special shout out to Tom Charpentier of EAA, who gave me some excellent and specific advice.

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