Medical and Health
Yes, Peace Corps Volunteers and Trainees will be expected to wear a mask when they are around other people in settings where social distancing is difficult or impossible. Volunteers will be expected to have their own masks and have the mask with them at all times. Invitees, Trainees, and Volunteers will receive more specific guidance from Peace Corps personnel as they move through preparation, travel, training, and service.
The Peace Corps provides appropriate and necessary health care to Volunteers during their service. Visit Medical Care During Service to learn more. After service, the Peace Corps pays for one month of health-care coverage under Short-term Health Insurance for Transition and Travel and returned Volunteers may purchase up to two more months of additional coverage. Federal retirees may suspend federal employee health benefits during service. (Talk with your retirement office to ensure that the suspension is done in a way that permits re-enrollment.) For individuals with Medicare, check with your Medicare office to find out if payments will continue to be deducted from your Social Security payment while you serve. You can cancel Medicare Part B (so you don’t have to pay the monthly premiums during your service) and re-enroll without penalty when you return to the U.S., as long as you submit the re-enrollment form prior to your close of service.
As the Peace Corps looks forward to resuming operations, we are committed to facilitating the service of Volunteers as safely as possible. All Peace Corps applicants are given an individualized medical clearance assessment. Those assessments are based on the applicants’ current state of health, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concerning risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness, and the health resources and capabilities available in our host countries.
When the Peace Corps establishes departure dates for specific countries, medical clearance determinations for applicants who may fall in certain high-risk categories for serious COVID-19 disease could temporarily be placed on hold or may not be medically cleared to serve. This reflects guidance from the CDC that people of all ages with serious underlying medical conditions should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for being exposed to COVID-19, which includes avoiding crowds and non-essential air travel. Moreover, those with serious underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for serious COVID-19 disease.
Please see People Who Are at Increased Risk for Severe Illness on the CDC website for a current list of conditions to see if you fall into a high risk category. In addition, we may temporarily place a hold on medical clearance determinations or make a medical non-clearance determination for individuals with a condition that we cannot confidently support given the pandemic-created limitations found in the potential host country.
The Peace Corps does not exclude healthy applicants because of their age. The Peace Corps values the skills, professionalism, and knowledge that older Volunteers bring to service.
While the CDC reports that 8 out of 10 COVID-19 related deaths in the United States have been in adults aged 65 and older, the Peace Corps has not established an age limit on service. We continue to review the evolving CDC data, emerging scientific evidence, and host country health resources to implement effectively a risk-based mitigation strategy in order to place Volunteers as safely as possible.
We are unable to predict the evolving guidance of the CDC because much is still unknown about the disease and the science around COVID-19 is changing rapidly. The Peace Corps continues to monitor CDC guidance, emerging scientific evidence, and the conditions in our countries of service to ensure that our medical clearance process reflects the current situation.
It may. Peace Corps Volunteers serve around the world in physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging environments where medical resources and the ability to access medical services can vary significantly from those in the U.S. The medical history of applicants is considered individually to determine the ability of the Peace Corps to safely meet the medical needs in their country of service.
To learn more about medical considerations, including conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service, please read Important Medical Information for Applicants. If you apply, you must fully disclose your medical history so Peace Corps can consider your health needs.
Current/past engagement in counseling alone is not a reason for medical non-clearance to Peace Corps service. Each applicant will have an individualized medical assessment to determine whether or not their physical and mental health status allows them to serve in countries without requiring specialty healthcare unavailable in Peace Corps service.
Conditions taken into account when making a medical non-clearance determination may include:
- Recent or active mental health diagnosis
- Recent or active mental health symptoms
- Recent initiation or change in psychiatric medications
The Peace Corps provides some reimbursements toward certain medical expenses incurred during the medical review process: a maximum of $60 for dental exams and X-rays, between $125 and $290 for physical exams (depending on age and gender), and a maximum of $12 for a vision exam.
If it is required for the country of service, yellow fever vaccinations are fully reimbursable. Costs above these amounts are the applicant’s responsibility. We encourage applicants to research for lower cost alternatives (e.g., National Association of Free Clinics, VISION USA, and International College of Dentists).
The medical review will require a dental and physical evaluation, lab work, and selected immunizations. Depending on a person's age and gender, the medical review may also include an ECG, colon cancer screening, Pap smear and/or a mammogram. We require that all necessary dental work be completed (wisdom teeth extracted (if recommended), cavities filled, braces removed) in order to give final clearance to serve abroad. For more information, please go to the Medical Information for Applicants page.
If you have medical questions, please message your nurse through the "Messages" feature in your Medical Portal. Your nurse is the most familiar with your medical history and will be able to give you the best answer. If you are experiencing technical difficulties, please contact the Pre-Service Admin Team by emailing [email protected] or calling 202-692-1504.
No, invitations to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer are contingent on final medical clearance. A nurse will review your health history and your medical considerations and determine if you can be medically cleared. Please respond to all requests for information and activities by any deadlines so that your clearance process is not delayed. Before you are notified of your medical clearance, please do not make big life changes such as quitting your job or selling your home.
Your HHF usually does not expire for one year so if you are applying within a year of submitting it, it may carry over. If you are applying within a year of submitting your HHF and you have medical updates, you may provide them via the Medical Portal.
As for your medical tasks, your medical exams should satisfy your medical clearance requirement as long as you are re-invited to another program that starts within 6 months of the completion date. When you reapply, please contact your nurse for questions regarding your medical clearance status. Since different countries have different medical clearance requirements, we cannot give you more specific guidance on what medical tasks you will need to complete in order to re-enroll.
The best way to submit documents for review is to upload them to your Medical Portal when your tasks have been provided. If you are having a hard time uploading your documents, please check out our Upload Tips [PDF]. If you continue to experience technical difficulties, you may contact us at [email protected] or at 202-692-1504.
It is possible to complete your medical and dental clearance forms abroad. However, the process can be more complicated. Please consider these guidelines when completing your forms:
- All reports and information must be submitted in English by a doctor who writes in English. If you cannot find a doctor who writes in English, you must have the results of your exam translated. Only certified translations will be accepted, and you are responsible for the cost associated with translating the information.
- U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Peace Corps Medical Officers (PCMOs) in Peace Corps countries may be able to make a referral to appropriate physicians or lab facilities for you to complete your tasks. PCMOs are not authorized to perform applicant physical exams due to conflict of interest.
- Just as with domestic applicants, it is your responsibility to proofread all forms in order to ensure accuracy and completeness. All completed exams, lab reports and X-rays can be uploaded into your Medical Portal. If you are having a hard time uploading your documents, please check out our Upload Tips [PDF].
- When using the cost-share form, please convert all costs from foreign currency to U.S. dollars.
Please complete your tasks as soon as possible. If you do not complete your tasks by the deadline, your invitation to serve may be revoked. If you are worried you may not meet your deadline, please message your nurse through the Medical Portal so they can see if an extension is possible. Please note that an extension is not guaranteed.
You may appeal this decision to the Peace Corps by sending a message requesting an appeal through your Medical Portal. Please let us know within 5 calendar days of receiving the decision if you are requesting an appeal. Less than 10% of appeals are reversed and the decision may not occur before your departure date.
Upon receiving your request, an “appeal task” will be posted on your portal. At that time, you will have up to 30 days to upload relevant and new information about your medical condition you would like considered in connection with your appeal. If you do not submit new information by the deadline, your request for an appeal will be withdrawn and your case will be closed.
Please be aware that, even if your appeal is successful with respect to the medical condition for which you were not medically cleared, you may have other medical conditions that we have not yet fully evaluated that might preclude you from being medically cleared for Peace Corps service. Additionally, it is likely that the appeal process will conclude after your scheduled departure date. If this is the case you would have to apply again.
The Peace Corps deeply appreciates your commitment to service. If you are interested in other service options, you may wish to visit www.serve.gov. This website is a comprehensive clearing house of volunteer opportunities to serve across the country and the world. Serve.gov is managed by the Corporation for National and Community Service.