If you apply for disability benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, one of the first (and most important) forms you'll need to complete is the Application for Supplemental Security Income, Form SSA-8000-BK. (If you're applying for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), you'll fill out Form SSA-16-BK instead; see our article filing Form SSA-16-BK.)
Here's what you need to know about answering the questions on Form SSA-8000-BK and how to get help with your application for SSI disability benefits.
Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) allows SSDI applicants to file a claim online, you can't complete an SSI application (Form SSA-8000-BK) online. But you can start your SSI application online by submitting some basic information. Then Social Security will contact you to set an appointment to finish the application process.
Or if you prefer to work with a Social Security rep from the start, you can skip the online application and request an SSI interview appointment. No matter which path you choose, to apply for SSI, you will be interviewed by a Social Security representative, who will help you fill out the Form SSA-8000 for you.
During your application interview, you'll still need to answer all the questions on Form SSA-8000-BK so that Social Security gets a clear picture of your situation. Familiarizing yourself with the form can help you prepare for your SSI application interview. Here's what Form SSA-8000-BK asks, along with some tips for answering the questions.
The SSI application (SSA-8000-BK) is a long form with 65 questions. Most of the questions aim to uncover your income and assets so that Social Security can see whether you qualify financially for SSI. Social Security will use other forms to determine if you meet the medical eligibility requirements, particularly Form 3368, Adult Disability Report.
Here's a sample of a filled-out SSI application, and here's a description of the questions asked on the form.
Part 1 of Form SSA-8000-BK asks you for your contact information and, if you're also applying for SSDI, your parents' names.
In Part 2 of Form SSA-8000-BK, Social Security asks several questions about your living situation, like:
If you're currently married, some of the questions in this section will tell Social Security how much of your spouse's income to count in your eligibility calculation (called "income deeming"). This part of Form SSA-8000-BK also asks whether you're receiving free room or board (called "in-kind income"), which can affect your benefit amount.
In Part 3, you'll have to answer some questions about your resources and assets. These questions allow Social Security to see whether you meet SSI's resource limit—currently $2,000 for unmarried applicants and $3,000 for married applicants. Social Security asks about things like your:
Form SSA-8000-BK also asks questions aimed at finding out if you've transferred or sold any assets for less than their "market value" to try to make yourself eligible for SSI benefits. The application asks about your actions over the last 36 months. If you did sell or transfer something valuable, you'll have to explain what it was and how much you got for it.
If Social Security determines that you transferred resources for less than they're worth, the agency might think you're trying to cheat the system. If that happens, you could be ineligible for SSI for up to 36 months. (Learn the details in our article on transferring assets to qualify for SSI.)
Part 4 of Form SSA-8000-BK helps Social Security determine whether you meet the income guidelines for SSI. You'll be asked whether you or your spouse expect to receive any income from employment (including self-employment).
There's a list of more than 20 other kinds of income, and you'll be asked if you or your spouse receive or expect to receive any of them. The list includes income like:
Part 5 of the SSI application asks about your eligibility for other benefits, including food stamps (SNAP benefits). You can apply for food stamps and Medicaid directly on Form SSA-8000-BK by telling the Social Security rep that you'd like to apply for these additional benefits. (Learn which states automatically grant Medicaid for SSI recipients.)
You'll have to answer the questions in Part 6 if you're applying for SSI benefits for someone other than yourself (like your disabled child). Social Security asks whether you want to be appointed as the applicant's representative payee and then asks questions to determine if you qualify to be a representative payee.
Form SSA-8000-BK includes several questions about your citizenship status—whether you're a citizen of the United States or if you meet the criteria for non-citizens to receive SSI. The form also asks if you've ever left the country for 30 days or more and when that happened (if it did).
When you apply for SSI, you will be interviewed by a Social Security representative who will then help you fill out Form SSA-8000-BK. Whether your interview is in person or by phone, you'll have the chance to ask questions about Form SSA-8000-BK and the SSI application process.
When you're ready to apply for SSI disability benefits, you can schedule your application interview in one of the following ways:
You can get help completing your SSI application from a disability advocate, including a lawyer or nonlawyer representative. Social Security will work with your representative throughout all phases of the application and determination process. And generally, your representative can't charge a fee without Social Security's approval.
But be advised that some disability attorneys won't take your SSI case at the application stage. You might have to wait until Social Security has denied your disability benefits and you want to request an appeal hearing. (Learn more about hiring a disability attorney for your appeal.)
Updated May 19, 2023