Registration Requirements for Special Needs Scouts

Scouts with Disabilities and Special Needs Page Links
Mission Statement Overview Advancement for Youth Members With Disabilities Definition Membership for Scout with Disabilities Advancement for Scout with Disabilities
Registration Requirements Process for Documenting a Disability Process for Registering Beyond Age of Eligibility Alternate Rank Advancement Requirements Process for Requesting Alternate Rank Advancement Requirements
Alternate Merit Badges for the Eagle Scout Rank Scout with Disability and Special Needs Forms and Links Guide for Merit Badge Counselor    


There has been much confusion among volunteers and professionals as to the rules and regulations regarding who qualifies and -- most importantly -- who doesn't qualify as a Special Needs Scout for age exemption. In an effort to clear up confusion, Article XI, Section 3, Clause 20 of the BSA's Rules and Regulations governing special types of registration states:

Mentally Retarded or Severely Physically Disabled Youth Members. In the discretion of the Executive Board, and under such rules and regulations as it may prescribe upon consultation with appropriate medical authorities, registration of boys who are either mentally retarded or severely physically handicapped, including the blind, deaf, and emotionally disturbed, over age 11 as Cub Scouts and over age 18 as Boy Scouts or Varsity Scouts, and registration of young adults who are either mentally retarded or severely physically handicapped, including the blind, deaf, and emotionally disturbed, over age 21 as Venturers, and the participation of each in the respective advancement programs while registered, is authorized.

The operative words are mentally retarded or severely physically disabled young people. Examples of these medical conditions include:

  • Developmental
  • Emotional
  • Hearing impaired
  • Learning disabled 
  • Mentally disabled
  • Orthopedically impaired
  • Visually impaired
  • Multiple Disabilities

The Annual Health and Medical Record Form, No. 34605, must be used as part of the procedure for registering a severely physically disabled youth in Scouting. The person's medical condition must be certified with a signed statement from a licensed physician. In the case of mentally retarded or emotionally disturbed candidates, their condition must be certified by a statement signed by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. Individuals whose medical conditions are not severe, as defined in Clause 20, do not qualify as a Special Needs Scout, and may not register as such.

Documentation that is requested:

  1. A letter from a parent or guardian describing the disability and its severity and permanence, and petitioning the council for approval of registration beyond the age of eligibility.
  2. A completed youth membership application or proof of current membership.
  3. A completed and signed BSA Annual Health and Medical Record form (parts A, B, and C), which is available online.
  4. A signed statement from a qualified health professional attesting to the nature of the disability, its severity, and permanent limitations connected with it. For physical disabilities, this must be a licensed physician; for developmental or cognitive issues, a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, or as appropriate, a neurologist or other medical professional in a specialty related to the disability.
  5. A letter from the unit leader advocating and supporting the registration.
  6. Other supporting documentation, such as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), treatment summaries, etc., which are optional, but can make a difference in the decision.

If done well, and available from the parents, an Individualized Education Plan can give valuable information on how to work with an individual Scout and help the Scout achieve at the best of his or her abilities.


Nonapproved Time Extensions for Eagle Candidates
In the past, families of Eagle Scout candidates have tried to use nonsevere, temporary medical conditions as "extenuating circumstances" to get national approval for a time extension. Such an extension would enable the candidate to work toward Eagle requirements beyond his 18th birthday. Such requests will continue to be denied, and families and individuals should be discouraged from requesting a time extension for these reasons.

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