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Medically Disqualifed at MEPS, Now What?

Navy Recruiting Medical Waiver Process

Updated: June 22, 2017

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.



6,762 Responses to “Navy Recruiting Medical Waiver Process”


  1. Navydoc says:

    Amber,
    Tattoos are an administrative issue, not a medical one.

  2. Navydoc says:

    Heeney,
    There is a 12 month waiting period for stress fractures.

  3. Joshua says:

    Sorry Doc, I don’t think I clarified myself in my question. I don’t have a hearing loss, my hearing result was a H3 in my right ear. The Army Liason officer submitted a waiver. Is it still a No go? They told me that hearing waivers were extremely common.

  4. navydoc says:

    Joshua,
    H3 is hearing loss more than 35 dB at 500, 1000 or 2000 Hz, 45 dB at 45 Hz, or 55 dB at 4000 Hz.. The only acceptable hearing profile is H1. I have not seen a hearing waiver granted in at least 5 years, and at the last CMO conference, all of the service waiver authorities stated that no hearing waivers will be granted. If that has changed due to the Army not making its recruiting quota, I would love to hear about it. Good luck.

  5. Janie says:

    Doc, what about a history of depression?

  6. Joseph [Last name redacted for privacy] (LTC, US Army Ret.) says:

    My son is trying to join the Navy and received a letter stating he is not qualified due to a History of Lyme Disease. He caught Lyme disease back in 2010 while at Boy Scout Camp and was treated at Bethesda, MD. Since then he had no symptoms or further treatment. I cannot find anything that states Lyme Disease automatically disqualifies you from Naval Service. Could this be waived?

  7. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Janie,

    Depression has been discussed numerous times in this blog. Depression requires a 36 month waiting period off all medications and therapy. If you required inpatient care, a waiver is not likely.

  8. George says:

    My son is a patriot and wants to serve his country. He recently graduated from The Citadel, but during his freshman year he was diagnosed and treated for some ulcers. For some reason part of this treatment was a Rx for Xanax which I do not believe he ever took. After a few weeks of treatment he never had any reoccurring issues with the ulcers, completed all the daily PT required by The Citadel, played Rugby for The Citadel, and is in top physical shape. He disclosed this previous condition while attempting to join the Navy and they permanently disqualified him. Like I said, he has had no reoccurring issues with the ulcers and never even took the Rx for Xanax that was randomly prescribed to him. I also believe The Citadel’s PT requirements exceed what would be expected out of him in the Navy and he did just fine, no issues at all. Is there anyone out there who can assist him in joining the Navy or any branch, he wants nothing more than to serve his country. if you knew him you would understand that he’d probably make a career out of it. Any help or assistance in obtaining a waiver would be greatly appreciated. Respectfully, George

  9. navydoc says:

    George,

    Has he had a physical at MEPS? Has his packet gone up to the waiver authority? If the waiver authority denied a waiver, she will sometimes indicated in the letter if any additional information would be useful for reconsideration. If he was PDQ by MEPS, the waiver authority should still take a look at his medical packet to see if waiver will be considered.

    The fact that he attended the Citadel is irrelevant when considering medical fitness/waiver possibility.

  10. navydoc says:

    Joseph,
    The services have the authority to waive almost anything, if the service’s need is great enough to warrant it. All applicants who are medically PDQ have their packets sent to the service waiver authority for review. If the service will consider/grant a waiver, they will authorize MEPS to do a physical (if the applicant was PDQ based on records review only) or send a waiver approval to the MEPS if the physical has already been done. The waiver decision should be communicated to the applicant by the recruiter.

  11. George says:

    Negative, he never went to MEPS. His PDQ was based solely on medical records regarding the ulcers. Also. I think it’s important to note that he has subsequently been seen by the doctor who initially treated his ulcers, and a separate doctor who I believe is a former Naval Commander, both have said the ulcers have apparently healed and he is unrestricted in all activities. It’s been a few years and he’s had no issues regarding the ulcers, so any informative suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks George

  12. Navydoc says:

    Joseph,
    See my previous answer. If he was PDQ by MEPS, the waiver authority must authorize a physical. If the navy will not consider waiver, MEPS will not do the physical.

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