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Medically Disqualifed at MEPS, Now What?

Navy Recruiting Medical Waiver Process

Written by
Published: September 17, 2009
Updated: July 25, 2021

Over the past couple of years, I have received a large number of emails asking me about the waiver process for medical issues. The Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) may have already permanently disqualified the individual, or is concerned they may have a condition which force them to endure the process and anxiety of the medical waiver.

First of all, the approval of a medical waiver is the responsibility of the Commander, Navy Recruiting Command (CNRC). The Admiral makes a decision with input from a qualified medical authority.

To dispel a myth, Navy Recruiting does not use the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) to make recommendations for an individual’s physical/psychological condition to enter enlisted Naval service.

Nearly a decade ago, in an effort to reduce applicant waiting time (which often times extended three months or more), CNRC added to the staff a medical department. Commander, Navy Recruiting Command’s medical staff (CNRC N3M) which includes a doctor and a small cadre of Navy Corpsman who work at the CNRC headquarters in Millington, Tn. now makes the medical recommendations to the Admiral in a fraction of the time.

The Process:

You first must be permanently disqualified (PDQ) by the MEPS medical department. The disqualification could come from your initial medical document reading (you do not make a trip to MEPS), or during your physical at the MEPS. Temporary disqualifications are not reviewed for medical waivers. If the MEPS PDQ’d you based on the medical documents submitted, MEPS will not allow you to process further – CNRC N3M must direct MEPS to provide a physical only if they feel a waiver is possible. N3M’s direction to MEPS may also include additional consultations (a visit to an outside specialist like an orthopedic doctor or a cardiologist).

Note: You need to be prepared to make more than one visit to MEPS depending on consultation requirements.

Once the final results of the MEPS physical and consultations are complete (including blood work), those results will be sent to N3M for review. N3M will then make a recommendation to the Admiral (usually within 3-5 days depending on backload).

If the MEPS PDQ’d you during the physical then N3M may direct further testing via consultation, or make a final recommendation to the Admiral for approval or disapproval without further medical tests.

I hope this helps you understand the process for a medical waiver, and hopefully make it a little less intimidating. As always, feel free to email your questions!

Waiver Process for Prior Drug and/or Alcohol Dependency

If you have been psychologically or physically dependent upon drugs or alcohol, recruiting personnel may request a Commander, Navy Recruiting Command eligibility determination when the pre-service dependency has been resolved in such a way that there is little likelihood that such behavior will recur. Your MEPS physical must include a psychiatric consultation.

Although medical waivers are very rare for previous drug or alcohol dependency, you may be considered a good risk for entry into the Navy if:

  • a. You have successfully abstained from drugs and alcohol for more than two years,
  • b. Your employment history or school attendance subsequent to rehabilitation is favorable, and
  • c. You appear well motivated.
  • d. A minimum of two years has elapsed since release from treatment.

Note 1: Where corrected in the post, the comments may still refer to CNRC 00M, 00M is now known as CNRC N3M – the function is still the same. As of January 30, 2012, N3M is still known as N3M, but is listed as N33 in the organizational chart.
Note 2: The advice and prognostications delivered in the comments by NavyDoc are based on his years of experience as a MEPS Chief Medical Officer, and he is only able take into account the information you provide, so for a more definitive response, ensure you are thorough with the description of your issue(s).
Note 3: The information contained in the comments is very extensive; your question may have already been addressed – read before posting. Thank you!

If you have hypothyroidism that is controlled by medication, and you have two normal thyroid stimulating hormone tests within the preceding 6 months, you do not require a waiver for the condition because it is NOT disqualifying. You will be able to continue your medication for the condition during boot-camp.

6,710 Responses to “Navy Recruiting Medical Waiver Process”

  1. Chris says:

    Hello NavyDoc! Please see the below report of TSH results and evaluation comments from endocrinologist for my son. As a reminder Tyler has been on the same dose of levoxyl for last 9 years. Any thoughts on the Doctor’s comments in the report below? Any reason to believe MEPS will DQ him or should we be all set since the TSH levels are normal and no change in meds? Thanks!

    Date of Visit: 3/15/2019
    TSH results 0.81 (normal range 0.35 – 4.94 mlU/L)
    Free T4 results 1.26 (normal range 0.71 – 2.23 ng/dL)

    Mr. Tyler is seen for thyroid follow up. When he was 10 years of age, he was seen at the University of Michigan. They placed him on thyroid medication for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. He has remained on thyroid pills, he is currently on Levoxyl 50 ug daily.

    Clinically the patient is doing well. He had no symptoms of thyroid dysfunction. His blood pressure is 108/78 and his pulse was 78. He appeared euthyroid. On examination, they thyroid has decreased minimally and is now 1-1/2 times normal size.

    Thyroid blood levels are within normal limits.

    Comment: The patient questions his long-term need for thyroid medication. He does have an enlarged thyroid, due to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This would only require treatment, if he is hypothyroid. I have recommended that he discontinue his thyroid pills, and return to be rechecked in 2 months. We will make further recommendations at that point.

    Addendum: The patient contacted me on March 20. He would like to continue on the Levoxyl 50 ug daily. With the persistence of his goiter, I believe this is a thoroughly acceptable option. He should have his thyroid rechecked in one year.

  2. navydoc says:

    Based solely on what you have written, he should be fine.

  3. navydoc says:

    My MEPS does not accept letters in lieu of medical records.

  4. Tsylor says:

    Good Afternoon Sir,

    I am hoping that you could answer a few questions that I have. My ASVAB score is in the 80s and I went to MEPS. I passed the hearing, vision, breath, blood pressure tests. Urine tests was good as well. I had the interview, which went well also. Then, I had to do the physical (where they ask you to privately strip down, ask about my tattoos, bend you over and check down there, etc.) Everything was good until the doc saw one of my tattoos and said it was self harm scars. Which they’re not and which I tried to explain. However, although the doc refused to believe me and I refused to back down, because it’s TRUE, they’re not self inflicted scars. The doc did allow me to continue with the MEPS process which was doing the duck walk, various other exercises, which I passed btw. Afterwards, the doc said because I was still very obviously and clearly against what she thought about my tattoo, she sent me to see, I guess the “head doc” who just happened to be the one who had interviewed me. He looked at my arm and he said to go to the liaison and try to get a waiver. Which I did and the liaison explained to me the paperwork that I have to give to my recruiter who is supposed to then send it in as a request for the waiver. Well, I got the references and paperwork to my recruiter last week and for some reason they seem to be stalling with sending my paperwork in. I have confirmed with my recruiter that no where on any paperwork from MEPS am I listed as disqualified, temp or permanently. I guess my question is, what do I do at this point? I’d like to get my paperwork sent in asap, receive the waiver or speak with the council if necessary. How can I get my recruiter and the recruiter office to be more…proactive about this? I passed all the tests. I’m fit as fiddle. I want to serve for my country. I’m not suicidal or have ever been. What does someone like me do in a situation like this? Who do I speak with if I believe my recruiter and the recruiter office isn’t taking this as seriously as I am?

  5. Navydoc says:

    There is no requirement that the recruiter requests a waiver, and no way to expedite it. Only disqualified applicants require waivers.

  6. Tsylor says:

    Thank you for responding sir! I am more confused now. When I asked my recruiter, what does it say on my MEPS papers, if I was considered disqualified – temp or permanent, he said I wasn’t disqualified at all. He was very adamant about it. But, he stated that I would have to go through getting the waiver process if I was to be able to become a part of the Navy. Is this a normal occurrence? What happens if a waiver isn’t given to me, what should my next step be if I refuse to give up?

  7. Navydoc says:

    No it doesn’t make sense. Waivers are an exception to policy to allow non-qualified applicants to join, based on the needs of the service. If you are qualified, no waiver is needed. Ask for a copy of your DD 2808 and look at your PULHES and any ICD 10 codes. That will give you m idea of what is going on.

  8. Tsylor says:

    Thank you, sir! I will request those immediately and let you know what the papers say. Just as an update, I spoke with the recruiter and he said he sent in my paper work and that also next week, he would schedule me for the DLAB.

  9. Kenry says:

    I went to meps and everything. I passed all except the visions test and the color blind test. The doctor told me to get a full topography but ive recently had one in june can i just send my medical records of my vision?

  10. Sara says:

    My son is going for a consult for ashma. What do they do at consult and what happens after this. We were sent to our own doctor for a Pft which came back cleared. That cost us 600. The recruiter says the results have to go to the surgeon general for approval. My son has been waiting over a year to get this far. Is the fact that he was given a consult a hood sign?

  11. Gina says:

    Two questions…

    1. How important are grades as a freshman? or any grade?
    2. Daughter blew out her MPFL (ligament) on her knee. She will be getting surgery and back to normal within the next couple months. Will there need to be a waiver for this?

  12. Annie says:

    Hi Navy Doc,

    I am trying to join the Army as a Cyber Operations Specialist. I have a spinal simulator implanted in my back. Is there a chance to get a waiver for having the simulator implanted? I have no pain whatsoever and I have no physical limitations.


  13. navydoc says:


  14. navydoc says:

    Grades are always important.
    Unknown until she has the surgery and recovers.

  15. navydoc says:

    The fact that it wasn’t an outright no is promising.

  16. navydoc says:

    Corneal topography is not a normal part of an eye exam, unless you are being evaluated for surgery or have known keratoconus. You can submit what you have, but still may be required to go to the MEPS consultant.

  17. Ladrae12 says:

    Hello NavyDoc,

    Back in 2013, I went to MEPS and I was disqualified from enlisting into the Air Force for cardiomegaly. During the MEPS visit, my blood pressure was evaluated and cardiologist consult diagnose me with cardiomegaly. Now, I’m trying to commission in the Air Force or Army and I want to know if I can if the cardiomegaly is no longer exists?

  18. navydoc says:

    Submit a current cardiology exam, including EKG and echocardiogram for review.

  19. Renee says:


    My son is applying for 3 service academies (Army, Navy, Air Force) as well as ROTC for each of these 3 branches in order to achieve his dream of becoming an officer in the armed forces. He had an intraocular lens implant as well as follow-on cataract surgery to remove the small cataract that formed after the trauma of his freak injury – a Nerf sword to the eye at age 9. Both surgeries were a result of the injury. Excellent vision until then. Now one eye is perfect and the other corrected to 20/20. Vision standards are not a problem from what I have read. He has no restrictions on activity and his opthamologist/eye surgeon doesn’t see any problems. Do you think any of these entities will offer a waiver (assuming they want him) after he is DQ in the DODMERB process? Thank you so much for taking the time to help.

  20. T.G. says:

    I am a prior-service Marine (honorable discharge in 2014) interested in joining the Army. I have a temporary VA rating for service-connected depression as the result of a Military Sexual Trauma, and a rating for spondylolisthesis (now asymptomatic). I have not needed medication nor treatment in the past 36+ months. I also had one instance of a panic attack that resulted in hospitalization while still in the military. It is my understanding that these are all disqualifying conditions and I will need waivers according to DoDI 6130.03. My question is how many conditions can one attempt to waiver? Is there a limit? I know my chances are basically 0 with a history of mental illness but I’d really appreciate your input. Thank you for your time.

  21. navydoc says:

    There is no limit to the number of conditions that can be considered, although the more you have, the less likely a waiver will be granted.

  22. navydoc says:

    The only service that might consider waiver is the Army. But service academies and ROTC programs have their choice of fully qualified applicants, and those not fully qualified ar3e rarely selected.

  23. Josh says:

    Hi Doc,
    I recently had surgery to get a plate removed from my wrist and had a tendon transferred from my right ring finger to my right thumb FPL tendon, due to it rupturing and the muscle not being in good shape. It’s been about a month since my most recent surgery, and the thumb does not seem to bend that well. Also, I have lots of visible incision scars there so I feel like the docs at MEPS will make a big deal about it. I can make a fist, grab a pin, and lift weights all the time so my grip strength is generally pretty good. But I do have one less tendon in my ring finger (100% mobility and strength) and some limited motion in my dominant thumb. Is this PDQ?

  24. Phil says:

    Hi NavyDoc,

    I have a history of thyroid nodules and wanted to run a recent thyroid ultrasound from the past year by you since thyroid nodules can medically disqualify an individual. The right and left thyroid lobes are normal in size and echogenicity with normal vascularity. There is a stable subcentimeter cyst in inferior pole. Thyroid isthmus is normal in size, contour, and echogenicity with normal vascularity. No cysts or nodules identified. IMPRESSION (on ultrasound report): Stable bilateral subcentimeter cystic nodules in the inferior pole of the right and left lobes of the thyroid. No new nodules identified.” The radiology report states that no further sonographic follow-up is recommended. Recent thyroid labs were drawn and came back normal as they have been for years now. Would a waiver be needed for this? Thank you!

  25. Jane says:

    Hi Navydoc,

    I am looking for some insight on what to expect in the future. I was recently Dq from meps due to a false accusation of self harm. How this issue was brought about was when I went back up to MEPS for my second time to ship for the Marine Corps. During the body recheck, some scarring was found on my shoulder. Although I agree, this does sound odd, I truly was never aware of these marks or the circumstances of which I recieved them, and have no story to them, and was completely unaware of their existence until the woman in the exam room pointed them out and had me squish up my arm to be able to view them. Due to what appears to me extreme fading of the scars and the fact that my shoulders are covered in acne my view was obstructed from seeing them before that moment, not only that but I don’t stare at my shoulders, that would be odd. I was then further questioned about these markings, which i unfortunately could give no answer to the story behind them and was redirected to the doctor who then took a look at them. It was explained to me that due to the nature of the scars, the fact that they are horizontal, parallel, and there are four of them on the non dominant side of my body, and there is no explanation or story for them, this typically is an indicator of self harm. I once more expressed that in no way is this possible, I have not, would not, and never under any circumstance will self harm, however I am still disqualified, but the doctor expressed that it is alright, you can submit a BUMED waiver for this. I was then sent back to the Marine office at Meps, sat down, and once more questioned again as to if these scars were a result of self harm, which I once more said no too because they are not. The Marine in the office said he understands the situation and believes me because I haven’t given him reason not to, and told me he would call my recruiter and give him the next steps of the waiver process and the next course of action to begin to move forward from this. I spoke with my recruiter, have drawn up my waiver consisting of my level of activity statement, 10 point personal statement, and I was advised to and did throw in a personal statement from my parents seconding that I would never self harm and have never for any reason sought or needed to seek treatment for any mental health related issues, and all of those documents have now been submitted. The most likely way I believe that these scars were recieved would be that I was a softball player for years and have been cleared with metal softball cleats and ran into chain linked fences more times than I can count, especially with my main position being catcher. In the green weights section, the section my recruiter pointed to me was of extreme importance to pack as much good stuff as I can, of the waiver it notes that I was extremely active in my highschool with participation in a variety of sports, clubs, performing arts, many of these I did hold a leadership position in, and over 200 hours of volunteer work to my community. I graduated with a 4.0, scored a 93 on the asvab. I have no other medical problems and never have, not so much as a broken bone in my past. I have had no run ins with the law, no drug usage, no dependants, and no tattoos or piercings other than regular ear lobe piercings for regular earrings. I have never had any mental health issues and never had to seek any form of treatment for one, and most definitely did not self harm. I suppose my question is what is the most likely outcome of this waiver. I understand why I was disqualified, a person shows up with markings that are often indicative of self harm with no story looks super suspicious, and I 100% agree with that. I do admit too once made aware of the marks they do appear to look like self mutilation and if I were the doctor I would suspect it too. I completely understand and sincerely respect that the doctor is just doing their job to ensure the best quality and health of the recruits, but I cant help but feel frustrated on my end because I know that’s not what happened. I’m really nervous about the pending results of my waiver, and would just like to know a general idea of what to expect as far as how long it may take for a decision to be made, and in your opinion what the results will most likely be coming back on that waiver. If the results of the waiver are denied, is this endeavor over, or is there a possibility of enlistment in another branch, or so on. I apologise in advance for any and all spelling errors, spelling has never been a strength of mine. Thank you for all your help!

  26. Sara says:

    Thanks for the reply. My son had ashma as a kid . We took a puliminary function test , came back normal, meps sent him to a pulmonary consult, they said he is normal ranges. Now it is going to sergeant general for final approval. Hasnt used an inhaler in years. We told them he had ashma as a kid and took us down this long road. Not sure what else they could want to prove he doesn’t have ashma and was misdiagnosed as a kid.

  27. Tsylor says:

    Good Afternoon NavyDoc,

    I wanted to give you an update. As suggested, I asked my recruiter for a copy of my 2808. The response I received back was vague and the recruiter said he “…actually never looked at it…” He went on to say that it wasn’t something I should concern myself with; that my paperwork requesting a waiver (for aforementioned issue) was sent. Which brings me to another concerning issue. He told me that on the day they (the recruiting office) had sent waiver requests for a few other people, somehow my paperwork had not been sent until the Friday of that week. When I went into the recruiting office, spoke to someone else and requested a copy or just to see my 2808, the answer I received was it couldn’t be done – that the paperwork was at MEPS. In addition, they told me that I was scheduled to take the DLAB. But, it was only AFTER I bought up that I was concerned taking the test before receiving a response on the waiver, did the recruiter then say, “…well, no you have to take the practice test first .. “. Which he didn’t have and couldn’t give me an exact day or time of when I could do the practice test. NavyDoc, I’m not sure what my next step should be. This recruiting office is not inspiring and the people I’ve spoken to seem to be lazy and have contradictory, tedious responses to what seem to be very simple questions or requests. The recruiting officer has pointed out the many mistakes or bad judgement calls he makes. But, also implies that there is some sort of tension between him and the superior officer at the recruiting office. They both blame each other for various things and I’m not sure how to go forward with this. I would greatly appreciate your insight on this once again.

  28. Rob says:

    Here’s my situation im 25 years old male, I was diagnosed with Acute lymphoblastic leukemia when I was (1995) I was then in remission 1996. I had a “catheter device” inserted under my skin by my my rib cage to put the medicine thru. My recruiter wants that in for but hospital disposed of that info. The only thing I could think of was to consult with my childhood doctor and get blood work done and get a letter from his office stating I no longer have leukemia and the incision would not cause any problems physically or health wise. Would that be PQD? I don’t take no medication or anything and I haven’t had any office visits since 2000 in reference about this.

  29. Mitch says:

    So I may need two waivers to join. At age 23 I had a depression/anxiety diagnosis and did treatment (zoloft and therapy), got well and am really doing fine there probably because I got a decent job and some of that life stuff squared away. Anyways i am 25 now and if I have no relapses in 19 months I will have been out of treatment for the 36 months required for that diagnosis to no longer be an issue. I also have a large vericose vein in my right leg above my ankel though. I am physically fit and can duck walk all day thanks to 13 years of football. What I want to know is if any particular branch would be more likely to grant a waiver for the veins after ive been cleared for the depression. I have a college degree and no moral issues. I understand the USMC age cut off is 27 so that may complicate things since I have to wait 19 months. But what about the other branches?

  30. She says:


    Just wanted to ask your honest opinion. I recently separated from the navy as an HM2 my re-enlistment code was RE-R1, got accepted to pharmacy school and on my first year, I’m currently applying to HSCProgram and got my MEPS physical done 2 days ago. I got PDQ’d for my rosacea which I was diagnosed last year while I was in, they told me I need a waiver and my PULHES code is P3P with ICD 10 code L71.9, what is the possibility that I would get a waiver? Thanks a lot!

  31. Jane says:


    Its Jane again. I just wanted to provide update of my situatiom to recieve the best advice and insight possible. I got results back from BUMED and they are not going to deny the waiver, howevever they have requested I have a psych consult done showing I am of sound mind, and once that document is submitted my waiver approved. I was told I could schedual a consult through meps, or I could get the consult done myself. Is it better to do one over the other, or does it matter at all? Guidence is greatly appriciated! Thanks!

  32. Jason says:

    Son recently PDQ’d for allergies and Athsma. Nothing anywhere in his medical record all the way back to birth but once issued Albuterol while sick. Wrestling and football through high school, never an issue. Allergy recorded as “cashew, rash, source mother.” Told by recruiter that N3 said it would be non-waiverable. Requested DD 2808, hope to have it soon.

  33. Jacob says:

    Hello Navydoc,

    The MEPS doctor is asking for all of my past medical records and I am complying with this request. Their underlying issue is for slight hyperlordosis, which just needs xrays and medical records to be reviewed. However, I just got my past medical records and now am concerned about my SCARED Anxiety Screening results because when I was younger (7 years ago In 2012) I was going through a legal trial and was eventually exonnerated and found not guilty on all charges. During the time, the trial brought great stress upon me. I was on house arrest and just released from jail and visited the Dr. for dealing with anxiety/panic attacks. According to this doctor record, I did not have anxiety on my depression screening, but on my SCARED anxiety screen it is noted from my doctor that “1, 6, 9, 12, 15, 19, 22, 24, 27, 30, 34, 38 > 7 Panic disorder or significant somatic symptons.” Will this PDQ me if I never have seen or needed a psychologist for this issue, never taken medicine, or had any issues a few months after my doctor visit.

    Thank you sir, for your time, patience, and help


  34. Melissa says:

    Hello sir, I was born with a heart defect called tetralogy of fallot (tet) and i had corrected surgery when i was 2. I’m currently in the process of trying to join I gave my recruiter a record stating that i was stable from a cardiac stand point and then gave him records of what my surgery entailed, My cardiologist cleared me for all types of sports and told me that this defect doesnt prevent me from doing anything, my question basically is could this defect possibly disqualify me from being able to join?

  35. Mark says:

    I had a stress fracture in my lower femour when I was a freshman in high school, I was in a cast for a few months. After it was healed my follow up went well & I had a full range of motion & no pain. I’ve since played sports & had no issues… will can I be disqualified for this?

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