On the MedXpress medical certification form (also called FAA Form 8500-8), question 18.y asks:
HAVE YOU EVER IN YOUR LIFE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH, HAD, OR DO YOU PRESENTLY HAVE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING: 18.y Medical Disability Benefits
You must answer YES to this question if you receive, or at any time in the past have received, a service-connected disability rating by the VA.
For a guide on how to fill out the FAA’s MedXPress, click here.
Some pilots answer yes only for medical or physical disabilities. That’s incorrect.
A service-connected disability, whether for PTSD, Chronic Adjustment Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, or any other mental health or medical condition requires an answer of YES to question 18.y.
Answering question 18.y “Yes” will not bar you from flying.
Answering yes may not even require you to have a psychiatric evaluation, but you can anticipate that the FAA will ask for more information about your case and application.
- A service-connected disability is an ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION about past symptoms that occurred because of, or during, military service.
- Eligibility for FAA certification is a REGULATORY DECISION that considers the past history of all medical disorders, but bases its determination on how the pilot’s current status conforms, or does not conform, to published aviation standards for airworthiness of the pilot.
- A service-connected disability does not prove or even suggest to the FAA that you are not qualified to fly. To the FAA, the disability signals only that you have a condition that requires the FAA to gather more information to consider your certification.
- You do not have to surrender a disability payment to be eligible for an FAA medical certificate.
- Essential Records for your psychiatrist in reviewing service-connected disabilities include, at a minimum, your Service Treatment Records and the Compensation and Pension Evaluation report. This is also called your C-file at the VA.
- Service Treatment Records: For more recent veterans, you usually receive this file on a writable DVD/CD or a downloadable link.
- A VA Disability Rating Letter is not the same as the C-file. It does not contain enough specific information to aid the psychiatric assessment.
- Contact your VA for instructions on how to request your C-file.
PTSD Decision Tool
The FAA publishes an AME Decision Making Tool for a pilot with a history of PTSD. The form is intended for your AME but reviewing the Decision Making Tool may help you understand how the FAA approaches certification decisions.