OKC deferred processing time


New Member
Any ideas as to how long it usually takes FAA OKC to process a deferred medical?

My AME deferred my Class 1 renewal to the FAA Aeromedical department in Oklahoma City due to new diagnosis of Ocular Hypertension and use of Xalatan eyedrops.

I've been calling them once a week for the last 7 weeks. It took them about 4 weeks for them to "receive" the documents and it's now been about 3 weeks that it's been "sent for review".

No problems with vision, 20/20 corrected with glasses, no abnormalities in visual field test, no signs of damage to retina... what's taking them so long?

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
It takes 6-8 weeks after they get the info. If you are an AOPA member, they frequently can get it looked at faster due to their size.:)


New Member
Any idea how that works? Do I call AOPA, do I request a status update through AOPA... etc?


New Member
Just a followup for anyone that might be searching the forums in the future and wants to know how long it takes to get a new special issuance when it is deferred to the Aeromedical Certification Division in Oklahoma City.

It took about two months in all to get the medical renewed. One week dealing with the AME and doctor, 3 weeks for the FAA to receive, security check and scan the documents, and 4 weeks for them to review and approve it.

Here's the timeline I had:

Nov 5th/2008 - Did medical exam for renewal for First Class, AME hands me the medical and I walk out of office

Nov 5th/2008 - AME calls and tells me to bring back medical, my condition requires deferral to FAA

Nov 13th/2008 - Submitted reports to AME, AME puts everything in an envelope, attaches two stamps on it and mails it via regular mail to FAA (from outside the USA)

Dec 1st/2008 - Call FAA, they say they haven't received any documents. They say to call back again in a few days.

Dec 1st/2008 - Call AME to say the FAA haven't received anything. Was told that the medical application was sent electronically but the 8500-14 and the original application was sent via mail. When I ask why it wasn't sent registered mail he says that the FAA doesn't accept registered mail.

Dec 5th/2008 - FAA still has not received any documents. Was told on phone that it takes as much as 3-4 weeks for them to receive mail and have it forwarded to their department because all mail is security checked.

Dec 5th/2008 - Faxed visual field exam to FAA for inclusion in file, since AME did not forward them as was requested on the form. Found this out through own research and asking FAA rep on phone if they needed the charts.

Dec 12th/2008 - FAA says they have received all the documents. I verify that they have the forms that were mailed and the charts that were faxed. Application has been sent for review.

Dec 17th/2008 - Documents received and submitted for review. Found out that all documents have been scanned and the process is being done electronically.

Dec 23rd/2008 - Documents received and submitted for review

Dec 30th/2008 - Documents received and submitted for review. Rep said that they were logging my calls and could see where I was calling, did not know why it was being held up, took my phone number, but never called back with any new info.

Jan 5th/2009 - Says that they have been sent to staff physician for final review. Says that they have been logging my calls and doesn't know why it is being held up but will try to flag the file so it is given priority and see if they can get it through the door.

Jan 9th/2009 - No verdict, been submitted for review and approval.

Jan 15th/2009 - Medical cleared, i.e. approved. Certificate is in the mail. I get transferred to someone in another department that promises to fax me a "letter of confirmation". Ten minutes later I get the fax as promised. The letter is good for 60 days, and essentially states that I am eligible for the First Class Medical. Rep says I can fly with this letter until I receive the actual medical certificate.

Jan 16th/2009 - Did an Airman Certification Inquiry and it confirms that I have a valid First Class Medical

My advice to anyone going through this process is to fax everything wherever possible, I would have saved about 3 weeks of waiting had my AME faxed everything.

Good idea to talk to AME about potentially new conditions before beginning to fill out the FAA medical application form. AME said all the forms are numbered sequentially and once an application form is started it has to be submitted.

Was told by AME that they cannot submit out-of-order numbered applications to FAA, and they can only hold it for 1-2 weeks pending receipt of tests/charts/reports by other physicians.

Better to get reports/charts/tests/letters about the condition before starting the medical process.

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
There are a few issues here.
1) Use an AME who does a LOT of exams.
2) The numbered sequence is not an issue, the forms are assigned to the AME and he must account for all forms.
3) Send the documents via FedEx or Priority Mail (yes, they do go through a security screen since 9/11 which slows it all down)
4) FAXing is a good idea unless you have large files, photo images such as nuclear cardia studies, or cardiac treadmill tests (frequently are not readable when FAXed)
at the FAA is: it goes to security in the mail room for screening; then to the scan room where it is scanned into their system for storage and visualization; the file is reviewed by a certification specialist (in sequence of when it was entered into the scanner) - they may be able to issue or may have to send it to a physician for review; if it goes to the physician it is in a new que - the physician approves/disapproves or asks for more info - if approved it goes to a clerk who generates the letter and medical certificate to be mailed; after another 5-7 days it goes out of the mailroom to you.

Remember, these folks handle 1700 apps a day and the number of Special Issuance apps is increasing with no increase in FAA staff. Expect the waits to get longer.

I always tell the airmen we see that they can expect 8-10 weeks for a response and to call before 6 weeks just takes a certification specialist away from their job to answer the phone.


Gold Member
I have Glaucoma and take Xalatan too and it isn't a big deal and have a special issuance for my First Class Medical.

The only hoops I have to jump through to get it renewed is to take my local AME a copy of my SI letter, copy of my visual field exam, and a copy of the 8500-14, Ophthalmological evaluation form for Glaucoma. I show it all to the AME and the local AME issues can issue the medical.

I was stressed too, hopefully you get the answer quick.

You may also find this of interest too:

FIT TO FLY: A Pilot's guide to aeromedical Issues