There are two types of eligibility for the RTC card:
- Basic Eligibility, or
- Medical eligibility
If you have a Medicare card, we suggest that you submit a "Basic Eligibility" application.
If you are eligible under one of the "Basic" categories noted below, you may apply under that category. "Basic" eligibility does not require medical certification. To qualify for Basic Eligibility, bring original documents of one of the following with your application:
- Medicare card, the federally-issued red, white, and blue card - only for those under 65 years of age. (NOTE: Medi-Cal is not accepted for eligibility.)
- California DMV Placard Registration parking placard receipt. If you bring the blue or red placard, you must also bring the registration receipt. If you have disabled license plates (DP) instead of a placard, you must submit a "Medical Eligibility" form.
- Other California transit agency card that is equivalent to the RTC Card.
- Proof of Veterans Disability-- A copy of your Service Connected Disability ID card and your VA Certification letter demonstrating a disability rating for aid and attendance, or for a service-connected disability with a rating level of 50% or higher. Please note that it may take more than several months to verify your application with the VA due to their current work volume. For a quicker turnaround, it is recommended that you submit a "Medical Certification" application instead.
Medical Eligibility Forms are available in person from your local Transit Agency RTC processing location, or you can request that one be mailed to you. Find your local Transit Agency RTC Processing Location at the bottom of the RTC Overview page.
To qualify under "Medical Eligibility," you must be certified by one of the licensed professionals described below.
To qualify for Medical Eligibility:
- Complete the appropriate sections of the Medical Certification form. Forms are available from your transit agency.
- Sign the application in two places: 1) to authorize your doctor to release information, and 2) to indicate your acceptance of RTC Program terms. If your application is not signed in both places, it cannot be processed and will be returned to you.
- Bring the Medical Certification form to your "Certifying Professional." The Certifying Professional must complete the form and mail the green copy to the Discount ID Card Program Office at the address shown on the form. Your application will be considered incomplete unless the certifying professional has returned the form.
- Keep the other copies and bring them with you when you have your photo taken at your transit agency. It is recommended that you have the form completed before going to the transit agency. If your doctor has not completed his/her portion of the form, the process could take more than 21 days.
Photocopies of the medical application are not accepted under any circumstances.
If you are submitting a medical application, only the following professionals who are licensed in the State of California to diagnose may complete the form:
- Licensed physicians with an M.D. or D.O. degree, licensed physician's assistants and nurse practitioners may certify in all categories in which they are licensed to diagnose
- Licensed chiropractors, categories 1, 2, 3 and 4
- Licensed podiatrists, disabilities involving the feet under categories 1, 2, 3 and 4
- Licensed optometrists (OPT), category 9
- Licensed audiologists (AU), category 10
- Licensed clinical psychologists (PSY) and licensed educational psychologists (LEP), categories 15, 16 and 17
- Licensed Marriage and Family Counselors (MFT), and Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), category 17
Your certifier's address and medical license information (required on each application form) will be verified with the California Medical License Board, and will be entered into our database.
Eligibility Criteria Section Codes
Section 1 - Non-ambulatory Disabilities
Impairments that, regardless of cause, require individuals to use a wheelchair for mobility.
Section 2 - Mobility Aids
Impairments that cause individuals to walk with significant difficulty including requiring use of a leg brace, cane, walker or crutches.
Section 3 - Musculo-Skeletal Impairment (Including Arthritis)
Musculo-skeletal impairment such as muscular dystrophy, osteogenesis imperfecta or arthritis of Functional Class III or anatomical Stage III. Individual has significant mobility impairment.
Section 4 - Amputation
Persons who suffer amputation of, or anatomical deformity of (i.e., loss of major function due to degenerative changes associated with vascular or neurological deficits, traumatic loss of muscle mass or tendons and x-ray evidence of bony or fibrous ankylosis at an unfavorable angle, joint subluxation or instability): (a) Both hands; or (b) one hand and one foot; or (c) amputation of lower extremity at or above the tarsal region (one or both legs).
Section 5 - Cerebrovascular Accident (Stroke)
With one of the following: (a) pseudobulbar palsy; or (b) functional motor deficit; or (c) ataxia affecting two extremities substantiated by appropriate cerebellar signs or proprioceptive loss post 4 months.
Section 6 - Pulmonary Ills
Respiratory impairments of Class 3 (FVC between 51 and 59% of predicted, or FEV between 41 and 59% of predicted); or Class 4 (FVC less than or equal to 50% of predicted, or FEV less than or equal to 40% of predicted.
Section 7 - Cardiac Ills
Cardiovascular impairments of functional Class III: Individuals with cardiac disease resulting in marked limitation of physical activity. They are comfortable at rest; less than ordinary physical activity causes fatigue, palpitation, dyspnea or anginal pain. (e.g., inability to walk one or more level blocks or climbing a flight of ordinary stairs.) Cardiovascular impairments of functional Class IV: Individuals with cardiac disease resulting in inability to carry out any physical activity without discomfort. Symptoms of cardiac insufficiency or of the anginal syndrome may be present even at rest. If physical activity is undertaken, discomfort is increased.
Section 8 - Dialysis
Individuals whose disability requires the use of a kidney dialysis machine.
Section 9 - Sight Disabilities
Those individuals whose vision in the better eye (after correction) is 20/200 or less; or those individuals whose visual field is contracted (tunnel vision) to 10° or less from point of fixation or widest diameter subtends an angle no greater than 20° and individuals who are unable to read information signs or symbols for other than language reasons.
Section 10 - Hearing Disabilities
Deafness or hearing incapacity that makes person unable to communicate or hear warning signals including those persons whose hearing loss is 70 dba or greater in the 500, 1000, 2000 Hz ranges.
Section 11 - Disabilities of Incoordination
Individuals suffering faulty coordination or palsy from brain spinal or peripheral nerve injury, functional motor deficit in any two limbs or manifestations which significantly reduce mobility, coordination or perceptiveness
Section 12 - Intellectual Disability
Intellectual Disability is a disorder that features concomitant deficits in intellectual functions and adaptive functioning that adversely impacts one or more aspects of daily living, such as communication, socialization, academic achievement and independent living. Significant delays in intellectual functions, which include reasoning, comprehension, judgment, problem solving, working memory and others, must be confirmed by standardized tests and clinical judgment. The significance of the disability, however, is determined by the extent of the limitations in adaptive functioning in the conceptual, social and practical domains. A deficit in adaptive functioning must be present in one or more of these domains and evidenced across multiple environments. The onset of these deficits must be seen during the developmental period and may be a result of a genetic syndrome, head trauma or acquired illness.
Section 13 - Cerebral Palsy
A neurological condition that appears in infancy or early childhood and permanently affects body movement, muscle coordination, and balance, and which primarily causes physical impairment involving limitation or loss of function and mobility. They experience difficulty with muscle coordination, muscle control, muscle tone, reflexes, balance or posture. They may have difficulty with fine or gross motor skills. Individuals with Cerebral Palsy may have associative and co-mitigating conditions that also impose additional challenges, such as a learning impairment, seizures, and vision or hearing loss.
Section 14 - Epilepsy (Convulsive Disorder)
A clinical disorder involving impairment of consciousness, characterized by seizures (e.g., generalized, complex partial, major motor, grand mal, petit mal or psychomotor), occurring more frequently than once a month in spite of prescribed treatment, with (a) diurnal episodes (loss of consciousness and convulsive seizure); (b) nocturnal episodes which show residual interfering with activity during the day; or (c) a disorder involving absence (petit mal) or mild partial (psychomotor) seizures occurring more frequently than once per week in spite of prescribed treatment with: 1) Alternation of awareness or loss of consciousness; and 2) Transient post-ictal manifestations of conventional or antisocial behavior. Persons exhibiting seizure-free control for a continuous period of more than six months duration are not included in the statement of Epilepsy defined in this section.
Section 15 - Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder is characterized by deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication abilities and social interaction skills, coupled with the presence of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interest or activities, which significantly impact the quality of social, educational, occupational, and/or adaptive functioning. Symptoms typically manifest early in the developmental period, but may only become fully apparent with increased social expectations. The range and severity of symptoms can vary greatly, producing unique, individual profiles of strengths and needs. To qualify for discount fare eligibility, an individual must minimally demonstrate the need for a substantial level of support to address either social communication deficits or restricted, repetitive behaviors.
Section 16 - Neurological Impairment
A syndrome characterized by learning, perception and/or behavioral disorders of an individual whose IQ is not less than two standard deviations below the norm. These characteristics exist as a result of brain dysfunctions, neurologic disorder or any damage to the central nervous system, whether due to genetic, hereditary, accident or illness factors. This section includes persons with severe gait problems who are restricted in mobility.
Section 17 - Mental Disorders
Mental Disorders include a broad range of mental conditions that affect mood, thought, and behavior, and significantly impact one or more life activities. A DSM-5 diagnosis in one of the following categories is required for eligibility: Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders, Dissociative Disorders, Somatic Symptoms and Related Disorders, and Neurocognitive Disorders. The diagnosis must be at a Class 3 to 5 level and a moderate impairment is the minimum level of severity necessary to qualify under this section. Please note that not all diagnoses within these categories will qualify for eligibility. For example, disorders in remission and "Unspecified" diagnoses are specifically excluded from discount fare eligibility. Additionally, applicants who have a Substance-Related or Addictive Disorder as a primary disability will not qualify for this program.
Section 18 - Chronic Progressive Debilitating Disorders
Individuals who experience chronic and progressive debilitating diseases that are characterized by constitutional symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, weight loss, pain and changes in mental status that, taken together, interfere in the activities of daily living and significantly impair mobility. Examples include: (a) Progressive, uncontrollable malignancies (i.e.. terminal malignancies or malignancies being treated with aggressive radiation or chemotherapy); (b) Advanced connective tissue diseases (i.e., advance states of disseminated lupus erythematosus, scleroderma or polyarteritis nodosa); (c) Symptomatic HIV infection (i.e., AIDS or ARC) in CDC-defined clinical categories B and C.
Section 19 - Multiple Impairments
This category may include, but not be limited to, persons disabled by the combined effects of more than one impairment. The individual impairments themselves may not be severe enough to qualify as a Transit Dysfunction; however, the combined effects of the disabilities may qualify the individual for the program.