Okay, these are the medical conditions:
Addison's disease - this is a chronic condition that I take medication for daily. As long as I take the medication, I am able to live a normal lifestyle.
Autoimmune Encephalitis - I have this diagnosis for some neuro-psychiatric symptoms I was exhibiting, including OCD (I'm pretty sure everybody has some OCD).
Currently I take daily medication, and I have received monthly IV infusions for the past few years. As the symptoms have continued to improve, I will be weening off the infusions. If I remain stable without the infusions, then I may ween off the daily meds, too. If I am still doing well, then I may ultimately be able to get rid of this diagnosis.
The letter I received from the FAA says that I am "ineligible for medical certification," but that I may be granted "Authorization for special issuance" for the 3rd class medical certificate. When the AME examined me, I tested at 20/20 vision, so shouldn't I be able to go all the way up to the 1st class medical?
I wasn't really looking for your confidential medical information, but rather the nature of your FAA medical certification.
You've received notice from the FAA stating that you may be grated special issuance for a third class medical certificate. Your vision is irrelevant in this case, as that's not the limiting factor. If you have a medical condition which has restricted you to third class, having good vision won't make that go away and get you a first class.
Vision is only one part of the medical certification criteria. Given that Addisons can cause loss of consciousness, and a separate diagnosis of psychiatric symptoms, it's no surprise that the FAA has notified you that you're inelligible for medical certification.
It sounds like you have some possibility of reaching a point where no medication is necessary, and once you've been free of medication (and symptoms) for an adequate period, you may be able to pursue a medical. Don't make the mistake of thinking it's simply an eyesight requirement. It's not.
How is a 3rd class medical w/ a waiver useless? I can get my PPL, Instrument rating and more with it. It's much better than that Sport license. I haven't attempted to get the 2nd class yet, but I don't know why I couldn't because it just bumps up the vision requirements.
A third class medical is useless for commercial operations when flying for compensation or hire.
The reason I thought the medical would be easier with helicopters is because helicopter operators aren't as well-known and established as the airlines. For example, Temsco Helicopters in Alaska is probably less stringent than United Airlines.
United Airlines doesn't set the medical requirement. The FAA does that, as well as establishing the standards and issuing the certificate. To fly for United Airlines one requires an Airline Transport Pilot certificate and a first class medical.
Temsco is not a Part 121 operation and does not require an ATP pilot certificate. The first class medical is only necessary when using the ATP privileges; if one is using only a commercial, then one needs a second class medical.
A third class is adequate for private pilot operations, but you can't fly for compensation or hire as a private pilot.