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I wanted to know if anyone applied to become their elderly parent's representative payee. I went into my local Social Security Office and I was told that I need to bring my elderly parent into the office for the interview and they would need to sign a form saying that they agree with someone taking over their payments. My concern is that my elderly parent may not be competent enough to sign the paperwork or refuse to go. Any suggestions or help would be great.

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The greatest site I know, with answers is social security works. Com.
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Seems a good place to ask this. While applying for SSI for my daughter, I was told that my mother was listed as a resident alien. I have an apt. for the daughter tomorrow (that's going to be interesting--she was dictating answers to me to the questions on the forms, and when asked what housework she did, she said "I flush, sometimes." Anyway, my mother has given me a copy of the POA which says I can deal with SSl, her cert. of naturalization, her old SS card (with her maiden name) her marriage certificate and my father's death certificate, in the hopes she won't have to make a visit. Any hope this will work?
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I have been told conflicting information. When I called, I was told that I needed to furnish my temporary guardianship award and a doctor's note showing incapacity. When I went to the office I was told that I needed to bring my elderly parent with me and that we both would be interviewed. The problem with bringing in the elderly parent is that they will likely not go or think that I am up to something. I did check the site but I cannot find a chat window to reach out to someone and the Social Security Customer Service phone line has an excessive wait time. So I am really confused as to what to do here.
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muddie38: You should go on SSA.gov and there you will find that you can actually "speak/message" an agent through a chat window. Just make sure to first type "representative payee" to get into the right area.
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Disgustedtoo, I did not change accounts, I changed his mailing address, as far as any future problems with the federal government, I am not the least bit concerned, I am his representative via POAs and I can show where every penny of his SS check has been paid. I guess if you were worried about your actions the fear of big brother might be valid but, since I use his money only for him with records, no worry. Hey maybe if they come snooping around they'll reimburse me for fuel, lunches out, wear and tear on my truck and maybe pay me something for all the hours I put in handling all of his business, never know. I suppose that there are lots of people financially exploiting their parents, I am not one and I would not hesitate to open his books to the FG.

I only handle what my dad requested me to handle, taking his access to the money away was for his protection at his request, he had been sadly abused and exploited, severe Stockholm syndrome. He knew enough to know I would always keep his best interests first and foremost. Oh by the way, they knew at SS that the address was a mailing address. I suppose one can always question motive and be pessimists about every thing. Right now I don't need anyone telling my dad he can't have money to buy his beanyweenies, he's already lost to much.
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What happened to me was the most devastating part of my journey so far with early onset-Dementia possible ALZ. I was approved for SSDI about a year and a half ago, remarkably 52 days after my app was submitted. I then received a letter stating I needed to apply for benefits for my two minor children 17 and 9 at the time. I was told I had to go in to the SSI office to apply for them.
The devastating part was after waitiing 2 1/2 hrs to see someone, I was told I could not apply for benefits on their behalf, I was legally mentally incompetent and terminally ill and that the children would have to have a representative payee. The doctors had not told me I was mentally incompetent, nor terminally ill. To hear this from someone that worked for SSI almost made me collapse in my chair. I was told my DW could be their Rep Payee. That however was going to require that she be interviewed and personally show up at the SSI Office to sign the paperwork. Typical Government service, they could have told me initially that she that had to come along with me. Another couple of hours sitting in the office of SSI and we were there about 15 minutes. The first benefit checks for the kids arrived 14 days later. That part went smoothly.
Rep Payee's must keep good records of how the money is spent. In the case of our youngest her average monthly meds are $250.00 a month, that alone chews up a nice part of money, we charge rent to cover her share of household expenses including food, and Yes, you can take the dependent on vacation. Just make sure you have good receipts. Also make sure you have a copy of a Govt issued Photo ID and one of for your dependent. I like to use my passport instead of a Drivers License. I hope this is of some help.
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Found the SSA FAQ's - here are a few interesting ones:

"Being an authorized representative, having power of
attorney, or a joint bank account with the beneficiary
is not the same as being a payee. These arrangements
do not give legal authority to negotiate and manage a
beneficiary's Social Security and/or SSI benefits. In order
to be a payee, you must apply for and be appointed by
Social Security."

Note the important word there - legal - referring to SS.

"What About "Power of Attorney"?

"Power of attorney is a legal process where one
individual grants a third party the authority to
transact certain business for that individual. It
does not lessen the rights of the individual and
does not usually grant the third party the right
to manage the individual's assets. It typically
makes no finding about the individual’s capability
or competence. The Treasury Department does
not recognize power of attorney for negotiating
federal payments, including Social Security or SSI checks.

This means, if you have power of attorney for someone
who is incapable of managing his or her own benefits,
you must still apply to serve as his or her payee."

I disagree with the statement they made: "...does not usually grant the third party the right to manage the individual's assets..." as our DPOA clearly states we can act as fiduciary, and makes specific references to money, credit, trusts, property, etc. HOWEVER, disregarding that, it still makes it clear that the Feds do NOT honor any POA and says you still must apply.

They refer to the following if you have more questions (there are plenty more, I only chose the payee references):

www.socialsecurity.gov/payee

For those who were able to change address by phone when the person was living with you, that's great! Personally, in thinking about it, they should NEVER allow this.
How would they really know if that is the person or not? No id, can't see the person -
seems to be a rather dangerous way to handle this. That is my opinion, but moving on, if that person has moved to AL, then the following applies as well:

"You must report the following events as soon as possible.
Call us at 1-800-772-1213, or contact your local Social
Security office. Note: there are additional changes and
events for SSI beneficiaries at the end of the list.

The beneficiary dies;
The beneficiary moves;"

There are more, but the "moves" was the reason I snagged this. If they no longer live with you, they have moved. Also, as I mentioned in another comment, call the local SS number, not the 800 number unless you enjoy being on hold!
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akdaughter - agreed about the no need for additional paperwork - things I would like to be doing are put on hold too often trying to juggle some other thing that rears it's ugly head. However, once you apply and are approved, and then set up the account, there's not a big difference. Since pension and SS only cover half of the MC, that report they each want will only have monthly portion of rent on it - the remaining money that is fed in from the trust pays for the remainder of the rent and any little odds and ends that must be covered. THAT I do not need to report to anyone, unless my brothers ask, and so far they are fine with not being involved. Once the SS account was set up to do electronic deposit, it just means I write two checks to the MC place instead of one.

That said, I did a lookup on this. From ssa.gov/pubs/10076.html, which is titled "A Guide for Representative Payees" (probably the same book they sent to me):

"Family members often use a power of attorney as
another way to handle a family member’s finances. For
Social Security purposes, a power of attorney isn’t an
acceptable way to manage a person’s monthly benefits.
Social Security recognizes only the use of a designated
representative payee for handling the beneficiary’s funds."

Do what you want people, but me, I prefer CYA. You think this is extra paperwork? If they for some reason check into things, you'll have a lot of explaining and paperwork to do!
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I never became the representative payee for my mom. I held POA and was joint on her checking account. When it started to become difficult for her to keep track of important mail, we called the SS office on speaker phone and asked to change her mailing address to my address. All mom had to do was tell the person that she was giving permission for me to talk to them. We also changed the mailing address on her bank account. When mom moved to AL in my town a few months later, this was already done. Becoming representative payee requires a dedicated bank account titled "For the benefit of". There are also annual reports that must be sent to SS showing where the money was spent. I really didn't want more paperwork and an additional bank account to deal with. My legal advisor told me that as long as mom had not been declared legally incompetent (meaning by a court of law), there was no requirement to have a representative payee.
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Don’t forget when your entrusted with there funds, there’s a law called the claw back rule, and unless they the person your taking care of has no funds, no back Account’s, no money what so ever you can’t put them in a home. Medicare does not pay for nursing homes, it’s Medicaid that pays. They must have no assets at all, or there going to make you pay for All there needs, those accounts must be gone 5 yrs before there put into nursing home, that’s  where the claw back rule comes into play. Get someone who specializes in this. Good luck.
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Hello All there is a great website called social security works.com it has many of the answers your looking for, and they know all the facts. Hope this helps.
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Social Security should already be going into "his" account - if your name is on the account , you are already authorized to use the funds.

Go talk to the VP at the Bank where the $$$ is deposited.
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Quick answer for ArtMom58: no and no. You do NOT have to have conservatorship to become representative payee, but POA does not work either. You have to file with SS to be appointed as representative payee. More detail below.

muddie38: Whoever told you that at the SS office could be/most likely is wrong. I did NOT bring my mother along nor did they ever ask me to bring her along. I did provide them with the letter the doctor wrote AND had THEIR form filled out with mom's signature. I would suggest calling that local office again and asking how you could avoid bringing your parent, explaining why this would be difficult. If you have documentation from a doctor, that may be sufficient, but you still have to go to the office and have them file the application. Wait for the approval letter before attempting to set up the new account that is required! The application copy they give you is not sufficient.

That said, there are caveats about some of the advice given in the comments.

Kindnessandlove said: "The Power of Attorney is only so good." and this is a TRUE statement. The DPOA is not legally good enough for ANYTHING to do with the federal goverment - they do NOT honor any kind of POA (reason is that all states have different rules, which would make this a nightmare for them, so you have to use their forms and rules.) Conservatorship is a different topic, one which I am not involved in, so I cannot say if that is sufficient. You may still need to file for representative payee, but may be able to avoid having to open a special account. Although some of the comments make accomplishing what you need appear to be a simple issue to deal with, some of what has been posted is wrong, legally. For instance:

Bobby40 said:
"Direct deposit takes care of the monthly checks as long as you have joint
ownership through the bank. After the check is deposited it is no longer
SSA’s business. In this situation I don’t think you need to be a representative
payee. "
AND
"You could also have your parent set up an online account at the Social Security
Administration website using your email address. This will give you access to
documents such as SSA-1099-R for tax purposes. "

Also:
Savitaa says:
"I am POA...I created an online SS account and having parent's check directly
deposited in checking account, which I can use to pay bills, etc."

If you read the "fine" print when setting up ANY account online (really any account online or not), you CANNOT legally pretend to be that person OR use that account yourself - If you were just helping to set it up FOR someone AND letting the person manage it and just assisting the person with it, maybe you could skate, but using it for yourself to manage their affairs is actually NOT legal. I specifically asked about this during the application for representative payee and was told in plain English - NO, you cannot set up an account in someone else's name (legally that is. Obviously you CAN set one up, BUT this is not legal!)

As for Bobby40's comment about it no longer being SSA's business, that is ALSO wrong. It may never become an issue, but if for some reason they DID become aware of this, you COULD be in some serious trouble. It is not that hard to do, so why not do it right?

balancedCaring said:
"Rather than go through that unnecessary SS loop, I found it easiest to get POA and
be Mom's Healthcare surrogate at her medical facilities or doctor's offices. With the
POA, you can easily do all financial activities for your mom. Also, if your loved one
is not competent to sign for whatever reason, SS will not send you her monthly
benefits."

In order to secure any kind of POA, the person you are representing MUST be competent, not just able to sign paperwork. Also, that SS loop is NOT unnecessary. LEGALLY you should be doing this. It is also NOT true that SS will not send the monthly benefits to you if the person is incompetent. The representative payee setup is SPECIFICALLY for aiding someone who cannot manage their own financial affairs.

What katiekay says (They informed me that if they had dementia and are not financially competent they HAD to have a payee identified who will handle their money for them. So I wouldn't even had known that if I hadn't called them about their tax info... I guess I opened a whole mess with that phone call.) is true. Just because you can find ways "around" this does NOT make it legal.

I'm also perplexed by katiekay's statement "I was fine with the money going to their checking account (and it still goes there) because I had POA on those accounts." I was also DPOA and using the SS and pension funds electronically deposited into her account, HOWEVER, SS informed me during the application process that I HAD to set up another NEW account, representative payee (me) for mom, and that no one else could be on it, nor could the funds be used for anything other than what they approved. First payment comes as a check, and going forward, once the account is set up, you can have direct deposit to that account.

Latest post from Isthisrealyreal:

"If your parent can give the SSA their SS # and SSA Rep permission to talk to you on the phone you can put in a change of address with SSA and then all info comes to you . It took my dad 45 minutes to give them his SS# and that was reading it from the card, Rep told me I needed to become Rep Payee, after some research I decided that all I really needed to do was take his debit card away and that stopped his access to money. He lives in AL and my address is his mailing address, I have received everything sent, no problem. I would make that call with your parents but, be ready to be on phone for a couple of hours. They were very helpful with address change. It sounds like that's all u need as u already have control of the money."

I had tried this once, to change the deposit from the bank to the CU so I could close the bank account. Because of her hearing issues, the SS woman was suspecting I was scamming her and rudely told me I had to bring her to a local office and hung up on me. You were lucky to get someone so understanding. In the end I was able to make this change via the CU - they were initially skeptical, but I pointed them to THEIR process on how to do this. Once the change is made to deposit there, the other deposit stops. HOWEVER, the rest of what you say about skirting the representative payee method is not legally true. Again, as I say elsewhere here, you might never encounter a problem, but if you do, you are dealing with the federal government. Why not just take that step and avoid any future issues? It really is not that big of a deal.

When our mother started making errors in her financial affairs, I took her to the CU with our DPOA (she just rifled through her wallet and purse while we changed address, etc.) We children were already "joint" on her account, which along with the DPOA made that step fairly easy (I have seen from other threads sometimes people have trouble with banks on this step.) I then temporarily forwarded her mail for about 1.5 months to get all the bills to change billing address to my address and then set up online payments via the bill payer. This is also not too hard - billers do not care where they send the bill, so long as they get paid! This took care of most of the financials, but beware as some items do not get sent monthly - in her case, RE taxes, water bill, insurance, etc. I was fortunate that the forwarding period was around the time of the water/RE tax bill time, so I snagged those, but had to deal with the other issues later. THIS is legitimate use of DPOA.

Now, here is what we ran into: ANY MAIL from the federal government CANNOT be forwarded. As katiekay ran into, we needed to have the tax documents sent to us (mother's place is 1.5 hr drive each way AND we would like to rent the place, so we cannot have sensitive mail being sent to that address.) I do see katiekay indicated they had this mail forwarded, but that was likely an error by the postal service. Our mother continued living at her place for a while, so I was able to snag those other documents when they were available (get them ASAP before they are "lost"!) However, months and even over a year after that temporary forwarding, federal mail was coming to her mail box with a label indicating "unable to forward." It is not clear why they were still resorting to the forwarding, as nothing else is currently sent to me that goes to her address (not since the temporary period expired!)

So began the next struggle to get all this federal paperwork sent to me.

The pension she had (dad's federal) took TWO years before we finally got the right
words on the forms THEY required to assign me as the representative and change
the address.

The VA paperwork is still a work in progress, but they also have SEVERAL forms that
must be filed in order for ME to be the contact.

The IRS kept rejecting the paperwork AND sending it to her mail address, so it would
be a month or more before I would get it. I finally called and the woman told me to
just file electronic this year, listing me (and my address) as the contact person and
table the forms for now.

Next on the list was SS/Medicare.

I found a form online, filled it out, and had mom sign it. I called before mailing it to the local office (always deal with a local office - calling the main number can put you in a holding pattern for a really long time!) and was told DO NOT mail it, and that I MUST have a face-to-face interview with them. She made an appointment for me. I brought a lot of paperwork (bank statements, her "rent" at the MC place, etc.) but they never asked to see ANY of it. I did give the SS rep the signed form, and he said if she can sign her name, that gets me halfway there, incompetent or not. If she couldn't, they would require her to make some kind of mark and have it witnessed. I had to respond to a number of questions, but in the end they approved it. They NEVER asked me to bring my mother in. The biggest hassle was getting the representative payee account set up. SS requires this. You cannot use an existing account, no one else can be on the account, nothing else goes into the account, AND they send a booklet which clearly indicates what you can and cannot use the funds for (this includes paying yourself for 'managing' the account.) Anything other than what is listed as what you can spend the funds on *MUST* be approved by SS.

Both SS and the federal pension require at least a yearly reckoning, much like a (correction) conservatorship would do, except the latter is reported to the court system. Paying for MC, both pension and SS combined cover about half the cost. We are feeding the remainder from a trust fund we set up before she became incompetent. So, filing their reports will just show ALL of the funds going to pay her "rent".

In summary, filing for SS representative payee and setting up a special account, and following THEIR rules is the RIGHT way to handle this, at least from a legal standpoint.
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We managed our BIL's care in care home. He was allowed some portion of his CK for personal needs. We bought all under garments and personal items. Instead of his daughter coming to care for him we did it. She visited once a year. His daughter sent us gas money once a month. We really did not want that. ONCE a YEAR, doctor had to fill out a document given to his retirement account to get his retirement. It had to be notarized. We did that also. BUT, when he passed, we heard from her very little. Guess we fulfilled our use. Sad
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If your parent can give the SSA their SS # and SSA Rep permission to talk to you on the phone you can put in a change of address with SSA and then all info comes to you . It took my dad 45 minutes to give them his SS# and that was reading it from the card, Rep told me I needed to become Rep Payee, after some research I decided that all I really needed to do was take his debit card away and that stopped his access to money. He lives in AL and my address is his mailing address, I have received everything sent, no problem. I would make that call with your parents but, be ready to be on phone for a couple of hours. They were very helpful with address change. It sounds like that's all u need as u already have control of the money.

Best of luck to you.
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Rather than go through that unnecessary SS loop, I found it easiest to get POA and be Mom's Healthcare surrogate at her medical facilities or doctor's offices. With the POA, you can easily do all financial activities for your mom. Also, if your loved one is not competent to sign for whatever reason, SS will not send you her monthly benefits.
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When mom came to live with us, mom and I went to the SS office together to do change of address.

The representative that helped us suggested appointing me mom's SS payee after asking mom a few questions. At the time mom was still able to sign her name. So we did.

At this point, we had already done POA, Advance directive, and her will.... at the time I carried everything with me.
Her SS money goes into an account just for her SS. I use the money to help pay for "rent", utilities, food, medical, medicine, and misc. All the items SS have listed in their booklet.

Mom made things easy by agreeing to give me "control". Her dad had Alzheimer's and she knew she wasn't ok. Even though I was in charge, she still had her wallet with money and debit card. As her disease progressed, I just made adjustments when I felt they needed to be done.

I feel for those that their LO isn't so agreeable. May God give you the strength to do what you need.
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Because I have legal guardianship of both of my parents, and proper documentation, I didn't need to take my parents with me to the Social Security office. The Power of Attorney is only so good. If your parents decide they want to take over their finances, they can. Legal Guardianship gives you the ability to take care of everything financial and medical without your parents undoing it.
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I am POA...I created an online SS account and having parent's check directly deposited in checking account, which I can use to pay bills, etc.
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Direct deposit takes care of the monthly checks as long as you have joint ownership through the bank.  After the check is deposited it is no longer SSA’s business.  In this situation I don’t think you need to be a representative payee.

You could also have your parent set up an online account at the Social Security Administration website using your email address.  This will give you access to documents such as SSA-1099-R for tax purposes.

SSA answers a lot of questions about representative payees at ssa.gov/payee/faqrep.htm.
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I am currently going through some of the same thing. This has been good, if not eye-opening, information. So here's the question: is it required to have a conservatorship in order to manage my mother's social security -- which really means use her social security to pay for a portion of being at a memory care facility -- or is a POA enough?
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As legal guardian I was required to become moms representative. I was able to defer this task to my brother who is moms conservator. SS said they prefer the guardian but will accept the conservator. As guardian I would have had to set up an account to receive her SS payment separate from the conservator account. This did not seem like a good idea to me. My brother became the representative and all remains under one account. If your parent has been determined incompetent by their doctor, and you are their legal guardian, then their signature is not valid and they don't need to be there. All documentation is needed at the appointment though. If they have not been determined incompetent then they should be present to approve you becoming representative, and their signature is valid. Our appointments were less than 20 minutes, no waiting.
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I had documentation from a clinical psychologist that my mom was incompetent that I was going to use in a guardianship hearing. So that combined with my mpoa and a doctor's note with her medical dx of alz and they put me as rep payee. They did ask why she wasn't there but accepted my assertion that she would not have lasted the over 6 hours I waited to be seen.

They gave me paperwork to take to the bank to open an account for them to direct deposit into. After I got the first paper check I was able to go online with that check and apply for the direct deposit. And now we get the direct deposit no problem.
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Muddie, get a letter from your mom's doctor stating that she is incompetent and if it's not too late and mom can still make decisions, also download a Durable Power of Attorney forms which are available online and for a small fee you can fill them out online and print them. Have mom sign it in front of a notary public and take all that information to the Social Security office. You may have to contact an attorney to help you with these forms if mom is not competent enough to sign these forms.
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Social Security assigned me as rep-payee, in a letter at the appointment when he first got approved for SSDI. My hubs was with me, he did not sign anything, nor was he asked to. I was told to bring in the banking routing information for direct deposit. I am required to keep him away from direct access to these funds, and pay his expenses for him, give him his cash allowance, keeping an account and reporting expenses.
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geewiz... my situation was that I needed to have their tax W2? sent to me as all the previous years it was going to their home address and being forwarded to me. I was hoping they would just send me the tax forms because I was POA. Their retirement and SS went into their checking account so getting to the funds isn't the problem.

I was fine with the money going to their checking account (and it still goes there) because I had POA on those accounts.

They informed me that if they had dementia and are not financially compentent they HAD to have a payee identified who will handle their money for them. So I wouldn't even had known that if I hadn't called them about their tax info... I guess I opened a whole mess with that phone call.
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I applied to be my parents payee but they have railroad retirement and social security so I went through the railroad retirement office. They sent the memory care they are in forms to fill out to determine if they really had dementia and were not competent to make decisions for themselves.

After the memory care and doctor filled those forms out and sent them in, they sent me a form to fill out with my info.. ss#, name, address, whether I am employed and where, what I plan to spend there money on. I filled this form in and sent it in and they had to approve me to be their payee... so it was a whole process.

Hope that helps.. it may be a little different then social security.. but probably similar procedure.
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I've had quite a number of family and friends that I assisted in their aging journey. I never needed to become a representative payee. What is the situation that requires this step? Perhaps others have faced this and may have a better answer for you.
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