Unfortunately if you have not worked in 17 years you probably do not have the "insured status" to qualify for the SSDI program. SSDI is an "insurance" program that requires payment in to the system. This is the deduction out of you paycheck. You must have 20 quarters of coverage in the 10 years prior to the disability. In other words, you must have worked and paid into the system for 20 quarters out of the last 40 before you became disabled. Since you don't have insured status you will not be able to apply for benefits. Unfortunately this is a common occurrence for stay at home moms. I have had folks with stroke or in wheelchairs who are clearly disabled but ineligible for benefits because they haven't worked. The only other benefit is SSI (Supplemental Security Income), but this is a disability program for people with limited income and resources. Your local social security office could tell you if you meet the income requirements for SSI.
I'm sorry to hear that you are so ill. It sounds like you medically qualify as disabled. Unfortunately, it sounds like you don't have enough recent work history to qualify for SSDI. I will attach a link with more information about the qualifications for SSDI.
If you are sufficiently needy, you may be eligible for SSI. Again, I've attached a link.
Lastly, if you have been widowed, you may qualify under your deceased husband's earnings.
If you think you might qualify after reading the link, please give me a call.
Leonard W. Moen & Associates
947 Powell Ave SW, Suite 105
Renton, WA 98057
Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice. It is merely intended to provide general information to aid the poster in finding answers to the problem posed. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. In most cases, it is best to contact an attorney directly to find answers to your problems.
In order to be eligible to apply for SSDI, you must have work long enough and recent enough to have those credits still apply. This is important since SSDI is based upon your past work and the benefit is not based upon your current financial situation. If you don’t qualify for SSDI, based on your lack of credits, the only other possible option is SSI. However, SSI is a needs based program and financial resources and income affects your eligibility and the amount of the benefit. The best thing to do is to go to your local Social Security office and apply. They will let you know if you meet the requirements to complete an application.
Actual legal advice can only be provided by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, with experience in the area of law regarding your question. The information provided is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.