Registering Beyond the Age of Eligibility

Eagle Scout medal

Sometimes a Scout with special needs or disabilities intellectually falls below the norm, yet enjoys Scouting, voicing his/her desires to stay in Scouting or Cub Scouting even though the age to move on has been reached. Consider the youth’s abilities, mental and physical maturity, and social awareness, and then think in terms of registering the Scout beyond the age of eligibility.

Youth and adults who are developmentally disabled or cognitively impaired, or youth with severe physical challenges, may be considered for registration beyond the ages of eligibility: age 11 or older for a Cub Scout, 18 or older for a Scouts BSA member, or 21 or older as a Venturer or Sea Scout. It is not necessary for Scouts to wait until reaching the end of the age eligibility for their program to submit the request. An adult of any age who has developmental disabilities, for example, may be considered for youth membership and join Scouting if a qualified medical professional is able to correlate cognitive abilities to less than the upper limit of an eligibility age.

A disability must be permanent and so severe that it precludes advancement even at a rate significantly slower than considered typical. If ranks can be achieved under accommodations already provided in official literature or with modifications as outlined in the Guide to Advancement, then the disability probably does not rise to the level required to qualify an individual for Registration Beyond the Age of Eligibility (RBAE).

In considering RBAE, members with conditions such as those listed below may meet the severity requirement, but every case must be considered individually. If members are able to take advantage of the flexibility already built into Scouting advancement and participate in essentially the same way as typical youth, then they must not be registered beyond the age of eligibility.

Some examples of conditions that, if severe, may be criteria that qualify a youth for RBAE include the following: autism spectrum disorder, blind or low vision, deaf or hard of hearing, intellectual disability, developmental disorder, Down syndrome, emotional or behavioral disorder, physical disability, traumatic brain injury, multiple coexisting disabilities

Note that the above list is limited in nature and is not inclusive of the many disabilities you may encounter.

“Multiple coexisting disabilities” refers to a diagnosis of two or more disabilities, none of which alone may be significant enough to warrant registration beyond the age of eligibility but when considered in combination may qualify. For example, a youth with a moderate learning disorder or ADHD — each on its own – may be insufficient for qualification. It is possible, however, when considered in combination with other disabilities, including medications involved, that the cumulative impact may rise to the level of the severity requirement.

When considering Registration Beyond the Age of Eligibility, leadership needs to provide the council the documents that help the committee understand the youth being considered.  Parental letters, Scout leadership letters, letters from physicians and other licensed persons need to be descriptive in terms of explanation. For example, the physician’s letter simply may be a statement regarding the issues at hand and why the Scout may not be able to participate, especially due to safety issues. A parent, on the other hand, needs to be more descriptive, painting a picture of what the youth is like at home, school, and in the community. The leadership may include descriptions of the youth’s strengths and challenges that may impact the youth’s ability to advance. Statements of how the Scouting program has benefited the Scout and why the Scout should stay in Scouting should be considered.

Registering Beyond the Age of Eligibility should not be substituted for time extensions. Note that RBAE is intended as a permanent arrangement to allow ongoing participation as a youth member. This is different from a “time extension,” which is available to allow a Scout working toward Eagle rank additional time, should certain circumstances arise that preclude timely achievement. Extensions of time are available only for the Eagle Scout, Summit, and Quartermaster ranks. Extensions have specific end dates, and they may or may not involve disabilities. See “Time Extensions,” in the Guide to Advancement, section