Thursday Health Thoughts: Temporary Handicap Tag

May 15, 2014

{Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.}
This is a subject that I personally really felt inept with in this whole health journey. I, like many of the people that I encounter, never dreamed that I would be 32 years old and learning about temporary handicap parking tags. But last fall as my health started to rapidly decline one of my doctors suggested to me that I consider obtaining a temporary handicap tag. At the time I was struggling to walk down the hallway in my parents house and had no energy to park a car and walk from what used to be a short distance to a store  a far off parking spot let alone go inside a store and walk around. I balked at her suggestion and pushed it from my mind, while I continued to pray for open spots near the front of the store, doctors office, hospital, etc. Within a few months it quickly became evident that this was in fact a need and my pride would need to be put to the side. 

For me (and many other young people who apply for a temporary handicap parking tag) there is a stigma that goes along with this whole situation. PLEASE understand that it is not that there is a stigma with being disabled, but instead for a chronicittle (a person struggling with illness in their 20s-40s) it truly means that you have to acknowledge that the life that you knew for a long time or for a "short while" is nothing like the one that you now know. 

Honestly, I cried throughout the entire process, including in the courthouse as I obtained, signed, and paid for my temporary tag. (And no, I did not just cry the first time- I have cried the two subsequent times also). For a gal who loved to get a little bit of "extra exercise" in by parking far out from her destination (extra steps and all that *smiles*) this felt like it was "one more loss" in this crazy illness world. And honestly, there are still times that I sigh as I acknowledge that I need to park close, put up my temporary tag, and politely smile at the people looking suspiciously at a young woman needing the space. 

Yes, I have been asked  accused of "milking the system" to which I sweetly reply that I have _____ and list all of the illnesses I am struggling with. (By that time the person is tired of the conversation *hahaha* and politely smiles and walks quickly off!) One man who came charging across the parking lot yelling "miss" at me and started to screamthat "it was people like me that hurt the handicap population in general" (no, I still have no idea what he was talking about!) literally kept yelling at me that he wanted my tag number to call and issue a formal complaint. His reasoning? I didn't have a wheelchair. As I looked back at him and quietly explained that I had several diseases, I unfortunately (and I PROMISE it was not on purpose!!) became violently ill and ended up throwing up on his feet. Embarrassed I backed up towards my car in tears and babbled about how sorry I was. I quickly got in my car and left the parking lot as he ran after me yelling, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry". Needless to say I can now laugh about this story but it took me quite a few months to do so!

But in the midst of all of that drama and emotion I did recognize and over time have come to accept that this is a necessary reality for me at this moment. I really wish that I would have understood the process a lot earlier because I really do think that knowledge is power. I hope that this will help you (or a friend or family member) if you are needing a temporary handicap tag! (Please note that this information ONLY pertains to temporary tags!!)

1. If you are going to apply for a temporary tag you will need to have a doctor fill out their part of the application for almost every state. (Some states allow patients to bring in a notarized letter from their doctor or a non-notarized letter from their doctor but this is rare. Contact your local DMV or court house to find out what is acceptable in your state!)

2. You can pick up the application from the DMV office or print it off on-line from your states website. Make sure to read your states regulations carefully as to who is eligible for the tag. Generally the DMV website states that a disability would refer to one of the following:

"Lack full use of an arm or both arms. Cannot walk a certain number of feet without stopping to rest. This greatly varies by state. Missouri, for instance, limits it to 50 feet, while Texas uses 200 feet as its gauge. Cannot walk without the assistance of a cane, crutch, brace, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or another person. Have a cardiac condition that’s listed as Class III or Class IV in severity according to the American Heart Association. Cannot walk without the aid of portable oxygen. Have a visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting lenses. Have a visual acuity of 20/200 but with a limited field of vision in which the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle of 20 degrees or less." This paragraphs information was found taken from HERE!

3. Research about where you will be able to turn in the application and pick up the tag. (For me it was done at our local county court house and only done on certain days.) Also find out what the fee is for the tag!

4. After you have picked up the application from the doctor you will need to go and wait for a turn to present the application, your licence, and any other documents that the court has requested. After it is approved then you will be given your new temporary tag. 
1. While it is against the law for you to be discriminated against if you look healthy or are young also understand that you will need to show just cause of why you need to have a temporary tag. At the same time though don't be afraid to apply for a tag just because you have an "invisible illness". Talk to your doctor and consider obtaining a tag if you are in need!

2. Remember that this is a temporary tag and most states have the time limit for the tag set at 6 months (some as early as 4 months!). Make sure to watch the date carefully.

3. Most states will charge a fee for the tag. It varies state by state so make sure to do your research ahead of time.

4. You can use the tag in whatever car that you are in (or driving) whether it is owned by you or you are renting a car. The tag is allowing you to transfer your disabled parking privileges from vehicle to vehicle. (This probably does not need to be said but...remember that the person who the temporary tag was registered to must be in the car to make it legal. If you use someone else's tag this is illegal and then you can be fined.)

5. I was shocked to realize that while it is legal for you to use a temporary tag in a state other than your issuing state (you do not need to apply for a temporary tag in every state that you enter) that state does not have to enter the temporary tag. Always make sure to carry a doctors note (I carry the same one used to apply for the card) with you in case a police officer questions you. I have never had a problem with this but if you are concerned about anything call ahead to the DMV in the state that you are traveling to double check.

6. Make sure to remember to present your handicap tag at hospitals, wellness institutes, and some doctors offices to obtain free valet parking. This to me has been extremely helpful and beneficial. My doctors offices range from big city areas to remote country roads (no joke!) I once added up that if I had to pay for parking for all of the hospitals, specialists, and doctors offices that I have been to I would have spent over $1,000 in just 11 months! WOW!! Thankfully almost all of these places provide complimentary free parking to those "guests" that need to use valet parking without additional cost. 

7. Understand that when traveling some people are going to be accommodating and helpful while others are going to look at you like you are trying to take the "easy road". I had a airport employee inform me that I did not need the extra assistance but have had rental car agencies go beyond their job descriptions to help accommodate without asking any questions. Be kind but be firm and state exactly what you need help with. 

8. Understand that you might get a lot of suspicious looks (or a crazy man yelling at you from across the parking lot) and let it go. (I could start quoting the "frozen movie song" right here but you get my point. *smiles*)
I hope this helps sweet friends! Anyone else have any tips to share that has helped you? In two weeks I am going to be starting an eight-part "Thursday Health Thoughts" series on working with doctors from out of state! Can't wait to share with y'all some things I have learned and learn from y'all too!!


  1. This is great information girl! Thanks for sharing all of your wisdom!

    1. I have no idea why I am just seeing this comment now- but thank you friend for your encouragement! I hope that it will help someone!!
      Blessings, Rebecca :)