September 30, 2013
Filling out a medical application (form 8500-8) is a stressful event for many of us. The language on the form can be confusing and it’s fairly easy to get tripped up and make a mistake. There is a notably broad distinction between making an honest mistake and making a fraudulent or intentionally false statement. The former can be a simple oversight or imperfect recollection, and the latter involves a fairly strict standard: making a false or inaccurate representation in reference to a material fact with knowledge of the falsity or inaccuracy of the fact.
In other words, the FAA would have to prove that you knew you were making a false statement when you filled out your medical application. Nevertheless, the FAA is pretty quick to accuse airmen of intentional falsification. In fact, it often appears to be the agency's default position when confronted with an irregularity. If proven, intentional falsification can result in revocation of an airman’s medical and pilot certificates.
Be advised that this article is not intended as a legal analysis of intentional falsification and its ramifications. Rather, our goal is to point out that inadvertent mistakes on a medical application can be corrected before the FAA discovers them. Let’s say, for instance, that you neglected to list a qualified visit to a health professional (question 19 on the medical application) and you were later reminded of the oversight by a bill, a follow-up appointment, or something similar. It’s not too late to set the record straight. We’ve had consistently positive results working with airman to correct their mistakes. We generally recommend sending a letter to the appropriate office within the FAA Medical Certification Division and asking them to amend an application. If you find that you need to send such a correction to the FAA, it’s advisable to carefully read the instructions on the application and include the appropriate information in the body of your letter as if you were reporting it on the application itself. It’s possible that the FAA may request additional medical information and you may be required to furnish it. If you don’t hear back from the FAA, don’t fret. It likely means they made the change and no further action on your part is necessary.
Because the FAA is so quick to accuse an airman of falsification, you should consult with a knowledgeable advisor prior to making any correction. That is what Pilot Protection Services is for, so give us a call if you have any questions.
Mike Yodice is the Director of Legal Services Plans at Yodice Associates and counsels Legal Services Plan/Pilot Protection Services members on such issues as FAA compliance and enforcement. Mike is an active pilot and regularly flies a Piper J-3 Cub and Cherokee 180.
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