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Old 06-22-2020, 11:53 AM   #41
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I saw nothing in there that disputes Mr. Margenau's facts about why WEP and GPO are needed to prevent non SS payers from getting a better deal than those who paid into SS.

From what I can see many of the people who have complaints are not being hurt. They simply don't understand how SS benefits are made up. They just see that are getting less money than they think they should get or somebody else gets, so it's not 'fair'.

I am not going to deny that some people are not treated fairly by things like WEP, but overall, the system is far more fair than if WEP and GPO did not exist.
I don't understand how you can treat WEP and GPO as though they have similar consequences. They don't. WEP is a reduction in SS benefits for the person that earned them due to having had employment not covered by SS. GPO, OTOH, reduces the SS spousal or survivor benefit a private sector employee can provide for his/her spouse.

I worked for about 40 years under SS. My DW was a school teacher in a non-SS system. I am denied from providing her spousal SS benefits nor survivor's benefits from my SS if I predecease her. If she had been a SAHM she would receive these. I'm the one being short changed as I paid in the same as my peers but still had to carry life insurance in amounts appropriate to cover the shortfall.

It does seem inequitable. I put a lot of money into SS while employed by MegaCorp, like all the other employees, but am denied the benefit of being able to provide for my spouse in the same way as others because of something she did: worked.

I do appreciate you conceding that some people are treated unfairly by these SS provisions. Like Gumby, I tend to be in the anti-GPO camp because it negatively impacts me and I never worked in a public sector job and have no public sector pension. It's easier to understand the reasoning behind WEP. But, as another poster mentioned upstream from here, with today's computer power and data tracking ability, it should be possible to improve the system.
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Old 06-22-2020, 12:01 PM   #42
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WEP is not always fair either as many are very hurt when they work partial careers in both systems, and thus do not receive a full benefit from either, social being knocked out by WEP , and pension being small due to the number of years put in.
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Old 06-22-2020, 12:22 PM   #43
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I don't see how you are more cheated than somebody whose wife worked and paid into SS.

My wife worked and is eligible for her own SS, but she cannot have both her own SS and take advantage of spousal SS from my account. We would both love it if she could, but she can ultimately only take whichever is greater.

Now, if your wife wants to completely forgo her non-SS pension (that was meant to replace SS) and take just your spousal benefit then that would be fair (but that's what the adjustments are for).

This is why I say your argument leads to a conclusion that we do away with any spousal benefit or that everybody is eligible for a spousal benefit (even if they get their own SS).
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Old 06-22-2020, 12:52 PM   #44
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I don't see how you are more cheated than somebody whose wife worked and paid into SS.
My comparison, clearly stated, is to someone with a DW who did not work at all. Or worked so little that their SS is zero or very small.
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Old 06-22-2020, 01:21 PM   #45
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Kwirk, you are wrong. If you wife's SS does not equal to one half yours, she get the difference made up by SS. If you should die before you, she sets a sum equal to your SS. Both SS benefits she is entitled to. However, The Stay at Home Wife with no payments into SS gets both of these same benefits. However if she is a Retired Texas School teacher she gets ZERO from SS. Neither the SAHM nor the teacher paid into SS. Yet one is entitled to SS benefits and the other is not.

In a previous post you stated that "If I am employed as a teacher (or whatever) and I do not pay into SS then that is because my teacher (or whatever) pension is intended to be a complete replacement for SS. That is the bargain that was made when these pensions were allowed to exist without paying into SS as well."
Refference: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32453.pdf

Social Security spousal benefits were established in the 1930s to help support wives who are
financially dependent on their husbands.

As more and more SHM became working mom's, and in some cases the government was paying our SS and Gov. retirement to these women, the law was changed. It covered all government workers. I am no expert on all teacher and other government pension systems, however I don't believe Texas pays the myriad of benefits, ie death, child till 18 and others, and are not a complete replacement for SS.
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Old 06-22-2020, 03:36 PM   #46
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First, I personally agree with those who think we ALL should pay into SS. It would eliminate misunderstandings and clearly be fair, with fewer confusing rules to complicate our understanding of how SS payments work.

https://www.creators.com/read/your-s...ployee-offsets

The GPO explanation starts about half way down.

Quote:
“What these people don't realize is that the government pension offset law simply treats them in the same way that all other working people have always been treated. For example, if a woman who worked at a job that was covered by Social Security gets a Social Security retirement pension, that pension has always offset any spousal benefits she might have been due. Before the GPO law went into effect, people getting a non-Social Security pension were the only working people in this country who could get their own retirement pension AND a full dependent's benefit from Social Security.”
And this......

Quote:
“And the GPO law actually gives these people a bit of a break. Social Security retirement pensions offset spousal benefits dollar for dollar. But a non-Social Security retirement pension causes only a three-for-two offset. In other words, for each $3 you get in a teacher's or other non-covered pension, you lose only $2 from Social Security spousal benefits.”
Here's some math that shows that even GPO, the non SS paying surviving spouse ends up better off than the SS paying surviving spouse.

https://www.creators.com/read/your-s...dont-repeal-it

Quote:

Fred and Wilma both worked at jobs covered by Social Security. Fred gets $2,000 per month in Social Security retirement. Wilma gets $2,100 per month in her own Social Security retirement. Fred dies at age 73. Wilma, who is 71, will not get a nickel of Social Security widow's benefits, because her own Social Security benefit offsets her widow's rate dollar for dollar. (One Social Security benefit has always offset another Social Security benefit.)


Their neighbor, Barney, worked at a job covered by Social Security and he gets $2,000 per month in Social Security retirement benefits. His wife, Betty, was a teacher in a state where teachers do not pay into Social Security. She gets $2,100 per month in a teacher's retirement pension. Like Fred, Barney dies at age 73. Before the GPO law was in place, 71 year old Betty would have received Barney's full Social Security pension, or $2,000, in widow's benefits in addition to her own full teacher's pension. Why should Betty (the teacher) get a widow's benefit when Wilma (the non-teacher) doesn't get widow's benefits? The GPO law simply eliminated that loophole. So again I must ask: Why should the GPO be repealed?


In fact, even with the GPO law, Betty the teacher comes out ahead of Wilma the non-teacher. All of Wilma's Social Security retirement benefit offsets her possible widow's benefit, meaning Wilma (the non-teacher) gets nothing. But only two thirds of Betty's teacher's pension offsets her widow's benefits. Two thirds of her $2,100 teacher's pension is $1,386. So you deduct that from Barney's Social Security, and that leaves $614.


In other words, Betty, the teacher, still gets $614 in widow's benefits, even with the GPO, while Wilma, the non-teacher, gets nothing.
As I said, eliminating GPO and WEP would be highly unfair to those of us who have paid into SS for most or all of our working lives.

Many of our laws have parts that seem unfair and may really be unfair. I certianly won't argue against fixing issues that are truly unfair. Hmmm.... maybe we should require a dollar for dollar offset for Betty. That could help reduce the future SS funding problem. Once they start tinkering with GPO, they might really fix it. Be careful what you ask for.

Note: I left out the Nell and Dudley example that deals with one spouse getting a SS type pension from a foreign government. It's towards the end of the second article.
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Old 06-22-2020, 03:53 PM   #47
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Rustic23, I believe your reference supports my point. From your link:


"The Government Pension Offset (GPO) is analogous in purpose to the dual entitlement provision and applies to individuals who qualify for both a pension based on their own non-Social Security-covered government work and a Social Security spousal benefit based on a spouse’s work in Social Security-covered employment.1 The dual entitlement rule and the GPO share the same intent—to reduce the Social Security spousal benefits of individuals who are not financially dependent on their spouses because they receive their own retired-worker or disabled-worker Social Security benefits, or their own non-Social Security pension benefits."


I'm trying to point out that it would be grossly unfair to pay spousal benefits to a spouse with a non-SS pension who did not pay into the system but not to a spouse with SS benefits of the same amount who did pay into the system. The spousal benefit is intended primarily for spouses who did not work or worked very little, and I support that. I can't see how a spouse who worked and has a pension is somehow more entitled just because he/she did not pay social security taxes. Either the spousal benefits go just to spouses with (little or) no pension or they go to every spouse regardless of the pension source, including SS.



I'm aware of the adjustments that are made to benefits when there are differences between the amounts each spouse might receive. In my own case I could never receive a spousal benefit because my CSRS pension is too large. I do receive a SS pension based on many years of, mostly, self-employment but it is substantially less than my wife's so she will not benefit from my SS when she begins collecting hers at 70.


I'll read future comments but I think I've said all that I can say.
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Old 06-22-2020, 04:03 PM   #48
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I agree as to the unfairness of the law. I can actually see limiting a spousal benefit, if you’re collecting a teacher pension. But, in the case where you’ve earned a benefit both in SS and the teacher pension plan, how does it make sense to limit the SS portion? You can’t be accruing benefits in both plans at the same time. You’re just receiving partial benefits from two separate plans.

The answer to this question is to take a look at the Social Security benefit formula, since there is an element of welfare in it i.e those with lower lifetime average earnings get a greater portion of their income replaced than those with higher earnings (90,33,15% in various brackets) Since in the cases inovled there was not 120 quarters of paying to SS the formula without wep would pay a greater percentage of income than was thought justified.
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Old 06-22-2020, 07:37 PM   #49
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The theory of WEP and GPO is understandable, but in reality it doesnt work in an equitable manner for many. It effects me but only minimally and as intended.
I was in a pension system with 14.5% withdrawal and 14.5% match to pension system and no SS.
Historically back in 1940s the teachers of the state had a one time vote to either join or not join SS. They chose not to overwhelmingly and was never revisited again.
I have almost 20 years of SS, but it is of the “Mickey Mouse” variety and thus why the WEP zaps it hard. GPO is largely immaterial because I am not married and if I was it wouldnt do a spouse much good even if WEP were not in existence.
I suspect many who face this problem might find their predecessors from decades ago like mine may have also voted to not participate. See historically speaking there were many states who already had pension systems in place. And they probably trusted it more than a fledgling new system.
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Old 06-22-2020, 08:43 PM   #50
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She will be starting her teacher pension later this year when she turns 65. Not sure exactly what is required with respect to notifying SSA. Is she required to notify them? Or is that something the school district will do once they start her pension. If anyone has any experience with this, I’d appreciate you insight.
She is required to notify SSA herself. This is one of the reporting responsibilities that she was told about when she filed for social security.

I am also affected by WEP and GPO. My social security check is not high enough for my Medicare premium, so I get my social security check withheld for the year and receive a yearly bill. I will not receive any social security widow's benefits from my DH if I outlive him. However, he will receive his social security check, a civil service pension from my working for the goverment and 2 small pensions he earned from private companies, if he outlives me. His income as a widower would be much higher than my income as a widow.
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Old 06-22-2020, 09:14 PM   #51
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She is required to notify SSA herself. This is one of the reporting responsibilities that she was told about when she filed for social security.

I am also affected by WEP and GPO. My social security check is not high enough for my Medicare premium, so I get my social security check withheld for the year and receive a yearly bill. I will not receive any social security widow's benefits from my DH if I outlive him. However, he will receive his social security check, a civil service pension from my working for the goverment and 2 small pensions he earned from private companies, if he outlives me. His income as a widower would be much higher than my income as a widow.

Dreamer, I was curious how that worked mechanically. Though still 9 years away, my SS will not cover medicare premiums either. So is what you do the standard practice in that situation? I was wondering the procedure on how I would cover the short fall each month.
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Teacher Pension and WEP
Old 06-23-2020, 07:03 AM   #52
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Teacher Pension and WEP

I am directly impacted by this since my primary income is a teacher pension. I knew all along that I would not receive SS and planned accordingly. I am grateful that my DH does receive SS.

I would hate to see any means testing/needs testing applied to SS. I feel that its broad support over the years is due to benefit to most people and the fact that it is by and large seen as a retirement program. I am glad that at least my pension doesn’t prevent DH from receiving his SS. I took a reduced pension so that if DH outlives me, he will continue to receive half of my pension along with his SS. If he goes first then I will have my full pension but no SS.

I am only indirectly affected by WEP. I chose not to finish out my quarters for SS eligibility since WEP would have reduced the amount so significantly. Finishing out my quarters wasn’t worth it and I am enjoying retirement too much to get a job.

I do know people who are hurt by WEP and GPO. I have a friend who worked approximately 15 years in a job covered by SS and 15 years in a teacher pension job. Her pension is small because of only about 15 years worked and her SS is subject to WEP. She will not receive survivors benefits due to GPO.

I do think some teachers get into trouble because they don’t realize the impact of these rules. Another friend was going through a divorce. Her attorney told her that due to the length of her marriage she would receive SS based on her husband’s (high) income. I told her that wasn’t going to happen and she refused to believe because of her attorney.
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Old 06-23-2020, 07:34 AM   #53
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Dreamer, I was curious how that worked mechanically. Though still 9 years away, my SS will not cover medicare premiums either. So is what you do the standard practice in that situation? I was wondering the procedure on how I would cover the short fall each month.
Yes, this is standard practice. I paid the rest of my Medicare premiums by check last year. This year, I opted to put it on my credit card in order to get the rewards, but they have not billed my credit card yet. It is due by October, so I hope that they due it soon, so I can put it out of my mind.
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Old 06-23-2020, 08:51 AM   #54
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The theory of WEP and GPO is understandable, but in reality it doesnt work in an equitable manner for many.
That seems to hit the nail on the head. The arguments for WEP and GPO, as those programs exist today, always seem to cherry pick the examples where there seems to be some common sense involved but never seem to address those situations where there seems to be no common sense involved at all.
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I suspect many who face this problem might find their predecessors from decades ago like mine may have also voted to not participate.
In Illinois, there have been a number of teacher-driven attempts to get teachers onto SS. Distrust of the extremely mismanaged state pension system is a primary concern but the fact that SS is a "good deal" because there is employer matching comes into play as well.

At our house, we very much wish DW could have participated in SS. But I doubt if the situation will ever change since the school districts, as employers, are dead set against contributing their half. I doubt if it will ever happen.

In regard to your question about billing if your SS is less than your Medicare premium, it works like this for DW. She receives a monthly bill to pay her Part D IRMAA. She receives an annual bill to pay a combination of her Part B IRMAA and the difference between her SS benefit and the larger Part B premium.

The montly bill has been generally straightforward. The annual bill (significant $$$) is a pita because the amount is unique to DW and manually calculated. DW has to call and beg for the number again and again every year. They're quick to send out letters warning that her Medicare will be cancelled if payment is not received but slow to let her know how much to send. Apparently there is no automated connection between the "form letter generator" and the guy who's stuck calculating the payment. You can imagine the phone tree nightmare when calling SS to work on this since 99.99% of the folks there have no clue what you're talking about.

In the worse case of this, DW was undergoing treatment for cancer and was nearing the end of an aggressive round of chemo. Radiation was to follow. When the letter arrived threatening to cancel her Medicare, she was devastated and jumping through all the hoops to get a bill (or at least get someone to acknowledge she was ready and willing to pay, just send a bill when the poor guy who does the manual calculation ever gets caught up) was more than painful.

I hope your situation never gets that complicated, and likely it won't. But it hasn't been a pleasant experience for DW.
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Old 06-23-2020, 09:03 AM   #55
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I do think some teachers get into trouble because they don’t realize the impact of these rules. Another friend was going through a divorce. Her attorney told her that due to the length of her marriage she would receive SS based on her husband’s (high) income. I told her that wasn’t going to happen and she refused to believe because of her attorney.

Perhaps every non SS job should state on the list of job requirements and the application - "You will not be paying into SS and be part of SS. You may find expected future SS payments substantially reduced in the future if you get them at all. You are advised to seriously consider investing the money you don't pay to SS in some form of retirement account. See a financial divisor if necessary. "

And then repeat the investment advice once a year.
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Old 06-23-2020, 09:05 AM   #56
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I always thought that the non-working spouse provision of SS was to cover a person who stayed at home, taking care of kids and doing things needed to support the working person.

Similar to other things, like a working person with no kids having to pay school tax. Just a society thing.
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Old 06-23-2020, 09:53 AM   #57
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I always thought that the non-working spouse provision of SS was to cover a person who stayed at home, taking care of kids and doing things needed to support the working person.

Similar to other things, like a working person with no kids having to pay school tax. Just a society thing.
While I generally agree with the "society thing" comment Fermion, there is a difference between that and a childless person still having to pay a school tax. In the case of the school tax, the childless person still gets a benefit. For example, every time he/she visits their doctor, takes the car to a mechanic, visits their CPA, etc., etc., they get a benefit. It would be a sad world if everyone around us was illiterate/unskilled.

I know, I know, in other countries and in other times, there were no tax funded public schools. But personally, I don't think that going back to that would improve my world. Maybe yours?
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Old 06-23-2020, 11:03 AM   #58
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I always thought that the non-working spouse provision of SS was to cover a person who stayed at home, taking care of kids and doing things needed to support the working person.

Similar to other things, like a working person with no kids having to pay school tax. Just a society thing.
Let's change a few key facts and see what you think then. A married woman works and contributes to SS for 40 years. She earns a benefit. Her non-working spouse is male and there are no children. For 40 years all he has done is sit around and play video games. He's a trust fund baby, so they didn't need the money. He is still going to get a spousal SS benefit equal to half of hers and a survivor benefit equal to her full SS if she predeceases him.
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Old 06-23-2020, 02:07 PM   #59
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Both DW and I have worked our careers in both SS covered jobs and non SS covered jobs. Not quite 50/50, but not 95/5 either (roughly 60/40 for one, 67/33 for the other). While there is a legitimate place for the concept of WEP and GPO, the powers that be had to make one set of rules that applies to everyone. Such a broad brush doesn't work out the same for all. And one of the weak points, IMHO, is for those who work substantial partial careers in each. The rules are designed more for 100/0.

There is something that I've always wondered about, but never found a concrete answer. How did the public pension get to qualify to not have to pay SS? I found something to the effect of - "Pension provides benefits substantially equal to SS". I saw this a couple of years ago somewhere on the SS site, but unfortunately I can't find it again to reference here. Aside from being unable to find an objective calculation for that qualification which I was looking for at the time, I wonder what happens when things change?

In my case, both DW and I have a modest pension from work in Ohio (though different plans, one is STRS and the other is OPERS). There have been cuts to COLAs, amounts payable, years to qualify, etc. Is there some point where the reductions in pension benefits get to the point that the SS waiver gets revoked? I would imagine that would be a big deal to have happen.

And a little off topic, but her SS position was working as a teacher for a religious school. She has a modest pension through them, as well. But as a religious organization they are exempt from ERISA and PBGC. I couldn't even get enough info to see how well funded they are. That doesn't seem to be in the best interest of the employee.

One final comment... we, like many others, did not understand all this when we were starting out or took these positions. I wouldn't say they hide it, but it's certainly not volunteered. I agree with a prior comment that they should have to volunteer this info. I recall being at a state pension retirement info meeting for those close to retirement, and when WEP/GPO subject was brought up, first thing the presenter asked was who had heard of it. Only a couple of hands went up. One was mine.

Fortunately, we saved heavily and are of the belt and suspenders mindset, but I could see where some could be hit hard by unexpected declines.
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Old 06-23-2020, 02:38 PM   #60
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That seems to hit the nail on the head. The arguments for WEP and GPO, as those programs exist today, always seem to cherry pick the examples where there seems to be some common sense involved but never seem to address those situations where there seems to be no common sense involved at all. In Illinois, there have been a number of teacher-driven attempts to get teachers onto SS. Distrust of the extremely mismanaged state pension system is a primary concern but the fact that SS is a "good deal" because there is employer matching comes into play as well.

At our house, we very much wish DW could have participated in SS. But I doubt if the situation will ever change since the school districts, as employers, are dead set against contributing their half. I doubt if it will ever happen.

In regard to your question about billing if your SS is less than your Medicare premium, it works like this for DW. She receives a monthly bill to pay her Part D IRMAA. She receives an annual bill to pay a combination of her Part B IRMAA and the difference between her SS benefit and the larger Part B premium.

The montly bill has been generally straightforward. The annual bill (significant $$$) is a pita because the amount is unique to DW and manually calculated. DW has to call and beg for the number again and again every year. They're quick to send out letters warning that her Medicare will be cancelled if payment is not received but slow to let her know how much to send. Apparently there is no automated connection between the "form letter generator" and the guy who's stuck calculating the payment. You can imagine the phone tree nightmare when calling SS to work on this since 99.99% of the folks there have no clue what you're talking about.

In the worse case of this, DW was undergoing treatment for cancer and was nearing the end of an aggressive round of chemo. Radiation was to follow. When the letter arrived threatening to cancel her Medicare, she was devastated and jumping through all the hoops to get a bill (or at least get someone to acknowledge she was ready and willing to pay, just send a bill when the poor guy who does the manual calculation ever gets caught up) was more than painful.

I hope your situation never gets that complicated, and likely it won't. But it hasn't been a pleasant experience for DW.

Thank you Dreamer and Youbet. Geez, nothing ever is as easy as it is supposed to be is it. For me I guess they got 9 years to make it better for me...or worse, ugh.
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