There are two main types of disability benefits. SSDI is based on your work history, and how much you paid into the system through your taxes. It sounds like you did not work enough to be eligible for this type of benefit. The other main type is SSI, which is a means tested program, meaning that to qualify the person must be considered disabled under the law and also meet financial qualifications. It can be thought of as "welfare" for disabled folks, so the amount of assets and income one can have is very small in order to qualify.
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Social Security is an insurance program, for which workers pay premiums in the form of payroll taxes. For old-age benefits, a worker must pay in enough to earn 40 covered quarters. For disability insured status, 20 of those covered quarters must have been earned within the 40 calendar quarters immediately preceding the onset of disability. To learn more about your eligibility for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the means-tested welfare program for the elderly and disabled, consult with an experienced Social Security or elder law practitioner.
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