Question About USCG Medical Evaluation

I was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 14 but have kept it under control since then. I saw that you need a medical evaluation and psychiatric disorder can be a disqualification. What would happen if I didn’t disclose that at the evaluation? Could the coast guard check your medical record or they on base it off the paper you give your doctor?

retracted my post because it was pretty bad advice to give

On the other hand, be aware that medical privacy can be difficult to maintain on a ship. You are meant to list your medications, for one thing. Any medical care that you may need will have to be asked for and evaluated on board, potentially by your boss.

For example: I needed a new prescription for my glasses as my old ones were giving me a bit of a headache. I requested to see an optometrist. For weeks afterwards, everyone wanted to know how my head was, even though I hadn’t complained to anyone. The concern was well intentioned, but it underlined to me that medical privacy isn’t necessarily a thing.

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I would think about this carefully. What do you mean by “keeping it under control?” You under a doctor’s care? Taking medications?

Even if you choose not to disclose your illness, you will have to disclose your medications, and if you are on psychiatric meds, they will want to know why. I would run this past your own doc and get an opinion before setting off to b-s the regulatory agencies right off the bat. It’s not a good way to launch a career.

I take medication for it and haven’t had a problem since I was 14 years old. Also do you have to disclose your medical record? If not I just won’t put my medication or condition.

When you sign that CG-719k you are attesting that you are telling the truth. If you omit medication that you are taking, and you are found out, you are subject to prosecution.

Why start a career on a lie? You don’t belong out here, in my opinion, if that is your attitude.

Look. Tell the truth even if it means you risk rejection. You can appeal that. A lie once found out will haunt you always.


Easy to say when you don’t have a mental illness that ruins every dream career because of the stigma of it.

You have no idea who I am or what my past experience is. I am a licensed officer, though and I can tell you that this is a tough enough business to be in without having to live a lie.

You can go ahead and BS the Coast Guard, but if you are out to sea, and run out of meds, or have an issue of any kind, you will be found out.

If you get injured or sick on the job, for any reason, and it turns into a worker’s comp/Jones Act case, then you can bet your behind you will be found out because your health history will be researched right down to the last pimple by your company’s attorneys who will do everything they can to block your claim. If they find out you lied to the Coast Guard they will have a field day.

I am not saying you don’t have a chance. You should download the CG form 719k and review it with your doctor, and if you apply, expect to have to provide a lot of additional paperwork and evidence that you will be fit for duty with no problems. There are a lot of people sailing with significant medical issues. You aren’t the only one but you have to be up front and honest about it.


You are not disclosing your medical history, a doctor is. So the Doctor either has to be unaware of your diagnosis and medication use, or be a party to your fraud.

The medical form also incvludes a certification by the applicant (you) that the information on it is complete and true. If you knowingly submit a mnedical history that conceals a condition and/or drug use you are aware of, it is reason to deny a MMC, and potentially, criminal prosecution under 18 U.S. Code 1001.

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How severe is your schizo & what do you think your symptoms would be if you ran out of meds or lost them in your bag while traveling to work? I’ve worked with more than a few people who could have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or other mental disorders if they would have been honest with their doctors while being evaluated. If you start obsessing about aliens, hunting, porn, guns or become severely OCD about how the coffee is made when off the meds you might be okay. If you are likely to punch a guy in the nose or cut an asshole up into little pieces then it is better to stay on land. There’s a lot of trigger personalities & situations offshore that can push even sane people over the edge.

A few other points to consider. Will your meds show up on a drug screen? Are you willing to live a lie & lie to your employers & CG for the next 30 years? How will you take it if you invest 15 good years of your life to a maritime career & get busted when you are i your prime & have to leave & start out new in another profession? Good luck.

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Even carrying your medication can expose someone to discovery of their medical conditions. They can search your bag on the gangway when you arrive, or find them during cabin inspections, or customs agents could find them. If you can say, “oh yeah, company knows that I need these, they approve, here’s my prescription,” it probably wont be a problem. But if someone says, “why isn’t this on the declaration of medications?” Saying, “I have the right to medical privacy,” isn’t going to work. Even asprin we have to list if we are bringing it on board.

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And violations of HIPAA are a serious thing. Obviously this was not detrimental to you and your profession, but had it been worse, you would have had very high legal grounds to pursue action against (presumably) the Captain for privacy violations.

Secrets are not easily kept aboard a ship, but those in senior roles should know the responsibilities of their position. I saw first hand an OIM joking about the number of people on board diagnosed with PTSD and on medication (naming names). That OIM was released from employment two days later. I hear he tried to sue for wrongful termination, but no lawyer would touch his case.

To the OP, the USCG may require a diagnosis from a psychiatric professional. It’s up to the Medical Review Board from that point. Perhaps a nicely worded letter from your psychiatrist to the effect of them feeling confident you can hold the position without issues might not be a bad idea? I’ve worked with many people with ADD and ADHD, some on medication (others should have been), and while not the same, they are legitimate medical concerns.

It’s not severe at all and there a high chance I was misdiagnosed. I am working with my doctor to come off the medicine so I don’t have to hide it.

I don’t know that HIPAA or the Privacy Act apply to people working on ships with non Canadian, non American flags.

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Really, the only question I have about the NMC’s bi-annual Medical Certificate will be answered at the Social Security
Administration office when I apply for Disability.

This will happen the day after NMC adjudges me “Not Fit For Duty”.

Hey…it’s THEIR standards and THEIR physical, ain’t it?

And not being medically fit not only is pretty much the very DEFINITION of"Disabled", but also precludes me from receiving Unemployment Insurance.

By that logic, anyone who’s not on disability should automatically be considered medically fit, which is clearly not the case.

That’s why the question will be answered at the Social Security Administration office…not here.

Of course, if you talk yourself into not even TRYING, then it’s a pretty safe bet that you will never, ever, get it.

And I’m sure there any number of “back injury artists” who will be quite grateful to eat the share you leave on the table.

As a long-time recipient of SSDI who has been through the process, I can tell you that the Social Security Administration doesn’t care whether you can sail. Their concern is whether you can work consistently at any job, not a particular job.

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If by some ill chance you should have to apply for SSDI, be aware

a) the rejection rate on first application is extremely high – I’ve heard 70%. Second applications are much more likely to be awarded. If the second application is rejected, then might be the time to hire a lawyer.

b) No matter when you apply, your payment is based on the time you became eligible (six months after disablement IIRC). When the award is made you’ll receive a lump sum to make up the difference.

c) Don’t fall into the trap of their online application. Find an office, make an appointment, and apply in person. The person interviewing you will know the stuff inside out and will save you much time and skull-sweat. You can walk in at the office, but an appointment may save you a lot of waiting room time.

If the company has an office in the USA (or any physical presence), or if the physical exam was conducted in the USA and the employee is an American, then HIPAA & Privacy Act applies. Doesn’t matter the flag of the ship. USA law applies if the company maintains a presence in the USA and employee is American. If employee is another nationality, then it may not be applicable.