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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.



6,915 Responses to “Navy Recruiting Medical Waiver Process”


  1. navydoc says:

    Mick,
    You will need to submit records for the concussion. The military treats any history of traumatic brain injury very seriously. You don’t take paperwork to MEPS. You must submit your medical prescreen (DD 2807-2) and all supporting medical records to your recruiter for review by medical personnel PRIOR to going to MEPS.

  2. Brishan says:

    Hello Navydoc, my name is Brishsan. I have been trying to enlist for the last couple of months but have been denied due to a knee surgery I had in high school (4 years ago). I dislocated and damaged my meniscus but did no other damage to my knee. When I first submitted my paperwork I was denied to go to MEPS and then my recruiter said to get a doctors note. I got a doctor’s note clearing me for all physical activities, I also regularly run and workout to prepare for basic and work a strenuous job with no problems. My recruiter submitted my doctors note and he said it went all the way to the OOJ and they did not like how things looked on paper so they denied me again. I was wondering if there was anyone I could get in contact with to show I can physically perform. Thank you for your time.

  3. Simon. says:

    Hi I know you answered this question about keratoconus before but I have just noticed that crosslinking surgery to stop progression of keratoconus is being offered by the Army, Air force & Navy to serving members,this is after it was approved by FDA last year. Do u think that its possible for people to enlist after they did the surgery? I will post the link to the proof that the military is offering it to all enlisted. [Link redacted, inservice medical procedures do not change accession requirements of DoD]

  4. Simon. says:

    Here is another link showing the Army hospital performing the crosslinking surgery to enlisted members. Does this mean it will be considered for waiver if one did it & is willing to enlist?
    [Link redacted, inservice medical procedures do not change accession requirements of DoD]

  5. Joseph says:

    Navydoc,
    If I have a surgery, what kind of records do I need to bring to MEPS? If I bring a signed letter from the surgeon describing the surgery and my current good health, will that suffice? Thank you.

    Joseph

  6. navydoc says:

    Brishan,
    History of dislocated knee is PDQ. While waivers can be granted, there is no right to a medical waiver; they are given at the discretion of the service, and are based on the needs of the service, NOT the wants of the applicant. The only person you can give/receive info from is your recruiter.

  7. Navydoc says:

    Joseph,
    Submit your surgical report and all follow up records. Letters are useless. You don’t bring them to MEPS. You submit them to your recruiter prior to being allowed to physical at MEPS.

  8. Jack says:

    Navydoc,

    I think I received a waiver from BUMED, but I’m not sure. My recruiter kept saying recommendation instead of waiver, so I want to be sure. There’s a letter from the Chief at BUMED to the CG at MCRC saying that I don’t meet the standards but they recommend a waiver, then there’s also a part where it says “From: CG MCRC, To: CO, Marine Corps Recruiting Station, ‘request for a medical waiver is approved.'” Is this an approved waiver, or a final recommendation for a waiver before approval?

    Thank you.

  9. Navydoc says:

    Jack,
    BUMED medical waivers will be signed by a navy CAPT, MC

  10. Laury says:

    Navydoc,

    My Son is in the DEP program as he is still a Senior in High School. He has already been to MEPS and has been approved for service. After signing all his enlistment documents, he tore his ACL playing his last year of High School Football. His Surgeon, an Air Force Surgeon retired, is stating that we should not worry about getting the waiver. However, his recruiter is being very discouraging about saying he believes it is a less than 50% chance of it being granted. I am wondering, if he has already been approved by MEPS prior to the ACL surgery, how does the determination that he is disqualified come into play? Does his recruiter have to notify MEPS of this already? Will his paperwork go directly to the Commander of Navy Recruiting? Any information you can provide would be most helpful in this very stressful situation.

    Thank you.

  11. Navydoc says:

    Larry,
    There is a 12month waiting period after ACL reconstruction. I have never seen it waived. Most likely he will be DEP dropped and need to reapply after waiting the 12 months.

  12. Nick says:

    Hi NavyDoc,

    I am seeking to join OCS/JAG. I asked once before, but I am curious whether a varicocele can be waived. I also recently fractured my fifth metacarpal. It’s slightly dislocated, but painless and fully functional. I’d like to know whether I should go through the trouble of gather all the documents (recommendations, transcripts, PFT training, etc.) required just to be disqualified. I’m not quite sure I asked the right question in my previous submission. If so, I apologize. Thank you.

  13. Navydoc says:

    Nick,
    It depends on side and size. Right varicocele is always PDQ. Left must be reducible, non painful, and testicle must be normal in size and completely palpable. Fracture must be completely healed by xray(no fracture line visible) which is at least 12 weeks. When you say slightly dislocated, I think of malunion or non union, both of which are PDQ.

  14. Nick says:

    NavyDoc,

    Thank you for your response. I saw my orthopedic doctor today. He took several x-rays and concluded that my fracture has completely healed, I have full function, and that there are no deformities. I hope this is convincing. The varicocele I have is in the left testicle, non-painful, and the testicle, according to past medical documentation, is of normal size and palpable. Wish me luck, doctor.

  15. Jordan says:

    Navydoc,

    Wanted to give you an update. I saw a retinal specialist yesterday (12/14) and he told me he saw no signs of retinal detachment. What he did see was scarring around my retinas, due to retinopathy of prematurity, to prevent a retinal detachment from happening. Since I didn’t have a retinal detachment, I know you said earlier “any history of retina disorder”, obviously this would fall under that. 2 part question : 1) have you seen this before in enlistee’s? 2) If so, have you seen it waived before or to your knowledge do you think it could be waived?

    I am getting a letter from the retinal specialist on Tuesday, stating that he saw no signs of retinal detachment, that my eyes are stable and healthy and he does not forsee any worsening.

    Thank you again.

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