In order to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you have to have worked and paid into the Social Security system through your taxes. You can earn a maximum of four credits per year, and the amount needed to earn a credit changes yearly. In 2023, you earn one credit for every $1,640 in covered earnings. So, you can earn all four credits by working part time or even for a short period of time during a year.
The number of credits you need to have to qualify for SSDI depends on your age. Before the age of 21, you need to have six credits in a three year period immediately before your disability began. From ages 24 through 31, you need to have worked half the time between age 21 and the time your disability began. After age 31, you must have 20 credits in the 10 year period immediately prior to the date your disability began.
If you are not eligible for SSDI, you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income.