For some people with disabilities, getting a handicap parking permit is a no-brainer. For others, the decision can be hard to accept. You might not be sure if you qualify for disability parking, how to apply, or — for those with invisible disabilities — if you’re going to get comments and stares from strangers. But having a handicap parking permit can allow you greater freedom to live your life. We talked to doctors and people with different types of arthritis to find out what you need to know about this process. Having a permanent (usually blue) placard that you hang in your car windshield lets you park in spots marked with an ISA. States also allow placards for a temporary or short-term disability, such as after having surgery. The allowances for who is eligible can vary by state. The application and registration process is usually done through the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (or the state’s equivalent). See below for links to resources for your state. For example, New York makes clear its rules for who may obtain the placard,” says Theodore R. Fields, MD, FACP, a rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City. To find out How to Get California Disabled Person Parking Placards, Permits, follow the link.
Most states have similar requirements, although exactly how the placards are used may be slightly different. Some states, such as New Jersey, may require the holder of the permit to carry a special ID card, which you get when you apply for the placard, as proof you can use it. Some states, like Texas and California, let holders park for free in metered parking. Others, like Illinois, have enacted additional requirements for utilizing free metered parking, such as an inability to manipulate coins due to fine motor issues in both hands. License plates marked with the ISA are also available, but the main advantage to having a placard rather than a license plate is that you can bring the placard with you from vehicle to vehicle. You don’t have to be driving as long as you are riding in the car. Some states, such as New Jersey, allow you to apply for both the placard and license plate at the same time.
Keep in mind that you are the only one legally permitted to use the placard to park in a spot labeled for disabled people. If you are not in the car as a driver or passenger, other people are not allowed to use the placard. States’ policies may vary slightly. Many let you obtain and print out applications online, and then mail them in or bring them to your local motor vehicle office. Most states require your doctor to sign a form to authorize that you qualify for disabled parking. Some, such as California, allow exceptions if you’ve lost a leg or both hands and apply in person. For some people, broaching the subject of handicap parking permits with the doctor can feel daunting. It was a difficult decision for me to ask my doctor for the paperwork to get my handicap parking permit,” Beth McDonald Quarterman told us on Facebook. I brought it up and my wonderful doctor just took it immediately from there, thankfully. Dr. Fields says people should be comfortable bringing up this issue with their doctor, even if that conversation means you learn you don’t yet meet the requirements.
There’s no penalty for discussing this question,” Dr. Lo says. Be sure to let your doctor know about all your symptoms and how your disease is affecting you; only then can they tell whether you may qualify. Bringing up this request early on in the appointment is important, so that you have enough time to be evaluated by your doctor,” says Juliette Kleinman, LCSW, ACSW, a senior social work manager in rheumatology at HSS. On the other hand, sometimes your doctor will first broach the idea of your getting an accessible parking placard. Remember it’s ultimately your call. My rheumatologist gave me the paperwork completed when he said that it was time, but mentally I’m not there,” Barbara Tanner Jordan Anderson told us on Facebook. Applying for the permit should be a joint decision between you and your doctor. It is only really useful if a patient is emotionally ready to use it,” Dr. Lo says. You may think getting an accessible parking placard signals a change in your identity, and this is understandably difficult.