In order to begin your journey into aviation or in order to maintain your career, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that you undergo a psychiatric evaluation and possibly a human intervention motivation study (HIMS) psychiatric evaluation. As you read through the letter you received, you are understandably overwhelmed, possibly confused, and worried about hitting a dead end, which is why you need an experienced and HIMS-trained psychiatrist in your corner.
Dr. Matthew Goldenberg has helped hundreds of airmen and airwomen with psychiatric evaluations for the FAA, allowing them to successfully and safely, return to flying. Not only is Dr. Goldenberg board-certified in both addiction and general psychiatry, but he is also HIMS trained and has extensive experience with the FAA medical certification process.
Dr. Goldenberg understands and is experienced in basing his reports on the FAA’s “Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs)” and specifically, 14 CFR § 67.107 Mental. Working with an experienced aviation psychiatrist like Dr. Goldenberg can mean the difference between obtaining a regular or special issuance medical certificate and getting denied or deferred by the FAA.
The different types of FAA evaluations
There are several reasons why the FAA would require a psychiatric evaluation for both pilots and air traffic controllers, including:
- A history of driving under the influence (DUI) or legal issues related to substance use
- A history of taking medications for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Any current or past history of diagnosis or treatment of a mental health condition
- Currently being prescribed an approved selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)
Whether you have a past or current history of DUI or have been prescribed medications for anxiety, depression, or ADHD, Dr. Goldenberg is well-versed in FAA requirements and regulations. He can help you navigate the process and complete the evaluation with the best chance of a positive outcome.
Special Considerations for Veterans with Service Connections
Good understanding is especially needed when a Veteran is required to have an FAA psychiatric evaluation due to having a mental health-related service connection. PTSD is the most common.
Dr. Goldenberg works with veterans from all branches of the armed forces and fully understands that having a Veterans Administration (VA) service connection/disability benefit is not the same as having been diagnosed and treated for a mental health condition. Using his understanding of the 14 CFR § 67.107 Mental and the DSM-5, Dr. Goldenberg has helped many Veterans obtain medical certificates by documenting for the FAA the distinction between the criteria used to establish a VA service connection and the clinical criteria used to diagnose and treat a mental health condition.
It may surprise you to find out your service to our country and your service connection is now a barrier to a career, or even a hobby, in aviation. Dr. Goldenberg can help you work through the hurdles created by the VA and the FAA and give you the best chance of getting your medical certificate and ability to fly.
The FAA and substance use disorders
One area that can be particularly confusing for pilots is the regulations related to a HIMS psychiatric evaluation for substance use concerns. The FAA’s definition of substance abuse and substance dependence is different from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM-5). Therefore, you want to work with an experienced aviation psychiatrist that provides a report that covers the FAA’s requirements. If you do not, you increase your chance of a deferral or rejection. You can feel confident knowing that Dr. Goldenberg has experience understanding and documenting per the FAA’s guidelines and regulations.
The FAA defines substance abuse with the following criteria:
- Use of a substance in a situation in which that use was physically hazardous, if there has been at any other time an instance of the use of a substance also in a situation in which that use was physically hazardous;
- A verified positive drug test result, an alcohol test result of 0.04 or greater alcohol concentration, or a refusal to submit to a drug or alcohol test required by the U.S. Department of Transportation;
- Misuse of a substance that the Federal Air Surgeon, based on case history and appropriate, qualified medical judgment relating to the substance involved, finds: (i) Makes the person unable to safely perform the duties or exercise the privileges of the airman certificate applied for or held; or (ii) May reasonably be expected, for the maximum duration of the airman medical certificate applied for or held, to make the person unable to perform those duties or exercise those privileges.
In contrast, the FAA defines substance dependence as a condition in which a person is dependent on a substance other than tobacco or ordinary xanthine-containing (e.g., caffeine) beverages, as evidenced by any of the following:
- Increased tolerance; OR
- Manifestation of withdrawal symptoms; OR
- Impaired control of use; OR
- Continued use despite damage to physical health or impairment of social, personal, or occupational functioning
Dr. Goldenberg is familiar with these criteria and uses his experience and understanding to produce a report that is consistent with the FAA’s requirements and protocols. A quality and thorough report, following all of the FAA’s standards, gives the airman or airwoman a better chance at a favorable outcome.
Navigating a DUI
The FAA requires that all airmen and airwomen report any DUI, no matter how long ago the event occurred. Even though you reported it once on the 8500-8 form, you also need to continue to report it on subsequent 8500-8 forms or any form that asks the question about previous DUIs.
If you have had a DUI, navigating the disclosure and FAA psychiatric HIMS evaluation can seem daunting. The FAA is looking at you under a microscope to determine if the DUI is a sign of a larger alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence. The HIMS psychiatry evaluation gives the FAA the information they need to determine your eligibility for a medical certificate. Everything is riding on it. With Dr. Goldenberg’s help, however, you can navigate this process more easily and successfully.
For Those In Recovery
It is well-documented that addiction impacts about 10% of the population, and pilots are not immune. Accordingly, the FAA created the human intervention motivation study (HIMS), aka “The HIMS Program” to assist pilots who have been diagnosed and treated for alcoholism and/or drug addiction and to help them return to flying safely.
Being board-certified in addiction psychiatry and being HIMS trained, Dr. Goldenberg has helped hundreds of pilots who have a history of addiction, either return to work or begin their careers in aviation successfully and safely.
Dr. Goldenberg has a solid understanding of the FAA’s requirements and expectations both in the addiction treatment requirements and the evaluation process. Working with an experienced and HIMS-trained psychiatrist can help set you up for success.
Dr. Goldenberg can also help a pilot with addiction understand what aspects of addiction treatment and recovery (i.e. AA meeting attendance, working with a sponsor, random drug testing etc.) the FAA expects in order to enter the HIMS program. This knowledge can help keep you from having to repeat the application process multiple times by setting you up for success the first time that you apply.
Whether piloting is your career or your passion
Dr. Goldenberg has worked with hundreds of well-seasoned 1st and 2nd Class Medical Certificate holders, as well as pilots applying for a medical certificate for the first time. He has also worked with most major airlines. This means that Dr. Goldenberg understands how much you have on the line. He has the experience and know-how needed to help get you safely back to work.
If flying is a recreational passion, but not your career, Dr. Goldenberg also has considerable experience aiding clients like you. He can help pilots with 3rd class medical certificates who have had a flag raised during the application process due to mental health or addiction concerns.
The bottom line is that if you need an FAA-required psychiatric evaluation or HIMS psychiatric evaluation, due to a DUI, if you are taking an FAA-approved SSRI, or if you have a past diagnosis or treatment of a mental health condition, including ADHD, Dr. Goldenberg can help.
To get started or to set up a no-obligation, 10-minute phone consultation with Dr. Goldenberg to discuss if he can help with your FAA psychiatric evaluation, click here.