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VI. Experiences of TTW Participants: Job Characteristics of Employed Participants

The job characteristics of employed TTW participants are of substantial interest to SSA, in large part because of the incentives embodied in the three TTW payment systems. The two payment systems introduced by TTW (milestone-outcome and outcome-only) give providers a stronger incentive to help their TTW clients secure and sustain high-paying jobs than does the traditional payment system that remains available to SVRAs. In fact, providers are fully paid under the two new payment systems only if their clients earn enough to exit the rolls for at least 60 months. Of course, the traditional payment system also gives providers an incentive to help their clients achieve high earnings, but providers are paid if these earnings are above the SGA for at least nine months; their clients do not have to exit the rolls.

If any of these incentives works as intended, we should find that TTW participants under all three payment systems are more likely than other beneficiaries to be employed in relatively high-paying jobs—that is, jobs in which the hours of work and hourly wages have the potential to reduce or eliminate the need to rely on benefits, as opposed to low-paying jobs that are associated with continued benefit receipt. This should be especially true for those who assigned their Ticket under the two new payment systems. Such findings would not necessarily imply that TTW has increased earnings or reduced reliance on benefits (issues we return to in Chapter XIV), but they would suggest that some TTW participants are at least finding jobs that are consistent with the program’s goals.

We used the 2004 NBS data to take a first look at the characteristics of jobs held by TTW participants in Phase 1 states at the time of interview and compare them to jobs held by all employed beneficiaries in the same states.1 Almost one-third of participants were employed at the time of the interview. Although this employment rate is very low relative to the employment rate of the working-age population, it is over three times the estimated 10 percent employment rate for all beneficiaries, and it might rise as these participants, with support from their providers, continue to pursue their employment objectives. Differences in the participants’ employment rates by provider type and payment type are not statistically significant.

Job characteristics vary by payment type in the expected direction (i.e., participants assigned to providers operating under one of the new TTW payment systems work more hours and have higher wages than those assigned to SVRAs and operating under the traditional payment system), but we cannot distinguish differences by payment type from differences by provider type. That is, findings for all employed participants who assigned their Ticket to an SVRA are almost identical to findings for those who did the same under the traditional payment system (the dominant payment system for SVRAs).2 In addition, there are almost no statistically significant differences between results for the two new payment systems. Hence, we present findings by provider type, rather than by payment type.

Overall, the mean hours, wages, earnings, and benefits associated with jobs held by participants who assigned their Ticket to an EN exceeded the means for jobs held by participants who assigned their Ticket to an SVRA, and the latter exceeded the means for jobs held by all employed beneficiaries only marginally. Mean monthly earnings in jobs held by those who assigned their Ticket to an EN were, if sustained, high enough to lead to program exit, but this is not true for those who assigned their Ticket to an SVRA. The relatively high earnings of the former are due to a combination of relatively high mean hours worked and relatively high mean hourly wages.

Employed participants who assigned their Ticket to an EN were also much more likely relative to all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries to report receiving benefits. For instance, 57 percent of the former group said they received employer health insurance coverage, compared with 27 percent of those served by SVRAs. Differences in benefit receipt between employed SVRA participants and all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries were not statistically significant.

Observed differences in outcomes between SVRA and EN TTW clients might be solely explained by differences in EN and SVRA incentives to serve clients who are likely to exit the rolls because of earnings. SVRAs are required by law to serve those with the most severe disabilities, and they also have funds from another source to pay for services if a client does not generate payments under TTW. The same is not required of ENs; nor do ENs have the same level of alternative funding, if they have any at all. Hence, we would expect ENs to be more careful to choose clients who are likely to earn enough to exit the roles, and this selectivity could explain a large share of the differences in earnings and other job characteristics between SVRA and EN clients. This expectation is consistent with provider interview findings reported in a previous report (Livermore et al. 2003). Managers of ENs that have served large numbers of TTW participants have said that they screen candidates on their willingness to work full time and on whether they are likely to be able to work at a job that pays at least $8.00 per hour, as they will need to do to exit the rolls; other personal characteristics are generally irrelevant. SVRAs cannot apply the same screen. This difference might also explain why employed participants who assigned their Ticket to an SVRA were more likely to be in sheltered employment than those who assigned their Ticket to an EN.

It might also be, however, that the higher earnings of EN clients reflect the fact that, compared with SVRAs, ENs place more emphasis on the attainment of earnings at a level that would reduce benefits to zero, also because of differences in incentives. Unfortunately, it is not possible to tell which of the two explanations is more often true.

One other possible cause of the differences in participants’ job characteristics by provider type is the fact that Phase 1 SVRAs routinely obtained Tickets from “pipeline” cases—clients who started to receive SVRA services before the TTW rollout, while ENs did not typically have such cases. This difference at least partly explains why employed SVRA participants had much longer job tenure at the time of the interview than employed EN participants. Hence, the findings for those who assigned their Ticket to an SVRA reflect a mixture of job characteristics of pipeline cases and of clients who started receiving services after the rollout.3

We also examined the use of special equipment or assistance at work, employer-provided accommodations, and job satisfaction. We found very few substantial differences in these characteristics across provider or payment type, or between employed participants and all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries. One substantive difference across provider types may, however, have some relevance to the findings reported above: employed participants who assigned their Ticket to an EN were much less likely than those who assigned their Ticket to an SVRA to use personal assistance at work. Presumably, this is because the former are less likely than other participants to need such assistance. We did not find a comparable difference in the use of special equipment, however.

Findings on accommodations and job satisfaction vary little by participation status, provider type, or payment system. Most employed Phase 1 beneficiaries and TTW participants received employer accommodations, and few reported needing accommodations that they did not have. Large majorities were satisfied with their jobs, rating them highly on a long list of attributes (e.g., “receipt of recognition and respect from others”). Far fewer employed beneficiaries reported that their jobs had three important attributes, however: good pay, chances for promotion, and good benefits. Although employed TTW participants who assigned their Ticket to an EN had relatively high pay, they were no more satisfied with their pay than others. Employed TTW participants were somewhat more likely than all employed beneficiaries to report prospects for promotion, so it is possible that their satisfaction with pay, and that their actual pay itself, will improve in the future. Consistent with the findings on benefit receipt, those benefits were more likely reported to be good by those who assigned their Ticket to an EN as opposed to an SVRA.

All of these findings are presented in more detail below.

A. Employment Rates

Almost 10 percent of Phase 1 beneficiaries reported that they were employed when they were interviewed in 2004 (Exhibit VI.1). Almost all of these beneficiaries (97 percent) were not TTW participants at the time, although many may have received SVRA services before the TTW rollout.4 TTW participants were about three times more likely than all Phase I beneficiaries to report that they were working (Exhibit VI.1). Their employment rate was also substantially higher than the rate observed for other groups of “employment-oriented” beneficiaries. For example, the employment rate among beneficiaries who had not assigned their Tickets but who said that they used employment-related services during the previous year was only 11.4 percent, just slightly above the rate reported by all Phase 1 beneficiaries. The two-percentage-point difference between the employment rate of TTW participants who assigned their Ticket to an EN and those who assigned their Ticket to an SVRA is not statistically significant.

B. Hours, Earnings, Benefits, Tenure, Self-Employment, Industry, and Occupation

1. Hours, Wages, and Earnings

On average, employed TTW participants worked about the same number of hours per week as all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries (23 hours compared with 22 hours) (Exhibit VI.2). These means, however, mask significant differences in the hours worked between those who assigned their Ticket to an EN and those who assigned their Ticket to an SVRA. The former worked significantly more hours per week on average (28 hours compared with 23 hours) and were more than twice as likely to be working full time (43 percent compared with 20 percent).

Exhibit VI.1. Employment Rates for Selected Subgroups of Phase 1 Beneficiaries

Exhibit VI.1. Employment Rates for Selected Subgroups of Phase 1 Beneficiaries
[D]

Source: 2004 NBS. Sample size = 2,932.

Note: EN and SVRA assignment based on the provider to which a Ticket was assigned for the longest period during 2003.

*Significantly different from all Phase 1 beneficiaries at the .05 level, two-tailed test.

The mean hourly wage of employed TTW participants was slightly higher than that of all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries ($7.42 compared with $6.92), but the difference is not statistically significant (Exhibit VI.2). What contributes to a higher mean wage for TTW participants is the fact that they were significantly less likely than all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries to be working in jobs paying less than minimum wage (19 percent compared with 34 percent). Again, however, the overall statistics mask substantial differences between those who assigned their Ticket to an EN and those who assigned their Ticket to an SVRA; the former had significantly higher mean wages ($9.76 compared with $7.09), were less than half as likely to earn less than the minimum wage (8 percent compared with 21 percent), and were more than twice as likely to earn at least $8.00 per hour (61 percent compared with 28 percent).

As a result of slightly more hours worked and somewhat higher wages, TTW participants had greater mean monthly earnings than did all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries ($779 versus $640), but the difference is not statistically significant. On the other hand, because TTW participants who assigned their Ticket to an EN earned a substantially higher mean hourly wage and worked for more mean hours, they had significantly higher mean monthly earnings ($1,257) than those who assigned a Ticket to an SVRA ($712). That amount is well above the level of SGA that is relevant to both payments for providers and continued eligibility for a vast majority of beneficiaries, $810 in 2004, but the means for the other two groups are below this benchmark.5 In fact, a majority (61 percent) of employed participants with Tickets assigned to ENs were earning above SGA at interview, a substantially larger share than among those assigned to SVRAs (27 percent) or among all working Phase 1 beneficiaries in general (25 percent).

Exhibit VI.2. Hours, Wages, and Monthly Earnings Among Working Phase 1 Beneficiaries

 

All Employed Phase 1 Beneficiaries Employed TTW Participants
All Participants Assigned to EN Assigned to SVRA

Usual Hours per Week (%) a

 

 

 

 

1–10

27

17

10

18

11–20

25

35

26

36

21–34

27

25

21

26

35 or more

21

23

43

20

Mean Hours Per Week

22

23

28 a

23

Hourly Wage (%) b, c

 

 

 

 

< $5.15

34 19 8 21

$5.16–$7.99

29 48 31 51

$8.00 or more

36 32 61 28

Mean Hourly Wage ($)

$6.92 $7.42 $9.76 a $7.09

Mean Monthly Pay ($)

$640 $779 d $1,257 a $712

% Earning Above SGA (>$810/month)

25 31 61 a 27

Source: 2004 NBS. Sample size = 593.

Note: EN and SVRA assignment based on the provider to which a Ticket was assigned for the longest period during 2003.

a Statistically different from employed TTW participants with Tickets assigned to SVRAs at the .05 level, two-tailed test.
b Phase 1 beneficiary distribution statistically different from TTW distribution at the .05 level, chi-square test.
c EN distribution statistically different from SVRA distribution at the .05 level, chi-square test.
d Statistically different from all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries at the .05 level, two-tailed test.

2. Employee Benefits

With a few exceptions, TTW participants were more likely than all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries to report having a given benefit associated with their employment, (Exhibit VI.3), but other than “paid vacation,” the difference is not statistically significant. Like the provider-related differences in other job characteristics, however, there are substantial, statistically significant differences in benefits between participants who assigned their Ticket to an EN and those who assigned their Ticket to an SVRA. The EN group was much more likely to report receiving paid vacation, sick days with pay, health insurance, dental insurance, and pension or retirement benefits.

Exhibit VI.3. Benefits Associated with the Main Current Job Among Working Phase 1 Beneficiaries (Weighted Percentages)

 

All Employed Phase 1 Beneficiaries Employed TTW Participants
All Participants Assigned to EN Assigned to SVRA
Paid vacation 30 41a 58b 39
Sick days with pay 25 27 41b 25
Health insurance 22 31 57b 27
Pension or retirement benefits 18 24 40b 22
Dental insurance 18 22 44b 19
Transportation allowance or discounts 18 11 13 11
Long-term disability benefits 12 10 19 9
Flex health/dependent care spending acct 7 6 11 5
Free or low-cost child care 2 1 4 1

Source: 2004 NBS. Sample size = 593.

Note: EN and SVRA assignment is based on the provider to which a Ticket was assigned for the longest period during 2003.

a Statistically different from all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries at the .05 level, two-tailed test.
b Statistically different from employed TTW participants with Tickets assigned to SVRAs at the .05 level, two-tailed test.

3. Job Tenure, Sheltered Employment, Self-Employment, Industry, and Occupation

The mean job tenure of employed TTW participants at the time of the interview was half that of all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries (26 months compared with 52 months) (Exhibit VI.4). The mean job tenure of those who assigned their Ticket to an EN was significantly shorter than their SVRA counterparts (17 months compared with 28 months). The difference may reflect the fact that, at the time of the interview, a large number of SVRA clients were “pipeline” cases (i.e., individuals who were being served by the SVRA before the TTW rollout). EN clients were more likely to be new clients because SSA reimbursed very few ENs directly before TTW.6

Exhibit VI.4. Months at Current Main Job Among Working Phase 1 Beneficiaries

Exhibit VI.4. Months at Current Main Job Among Working Phase 1 Beneficiaries
[D]

Source: 2004 NBS. Sample size = 593.

Note: EN and SVRA assignment based on the provider to which a Ticket was assigned for the longest period during 2003.

* Significantly different from all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries at the .05 level, two-tailed test.

+ Significantly different from employed TTW participants who assigned their Ticket to an SVRA at the .05 level, two-tailed test.

Pipeline cases might also explain why those who assigned their Ticket to an SVRA were more than twice as likely as their EN counterparts to report that they were employed when they assigned their Ticket (Exhibit VI.5).7 It is also possible that this difference at least partly reflects differences in the types of participants served.

Pipeline cases might affect many other reported characteristics of the jobs held by SVRA participants, although in less obvious ways, for at least three reasons. First, pipeline participants have had more time to find a job, adjust to it, possibly receive a raise, or be promoted or terminated. Second, SVRAs may have served pipeline and nonpipeline cases differently, perhaps because of changes in payment system incentives or other SSA efforts to promote beneficiary employment. Third, nonpipeline cases might differ substantially from pipeline cases in terms of characteristics that affect employment outcomes, reflecting differences in how and when SVRAs obtained Ticket assignments from the two types of cases.

Exhibit VI.5. Job Tenure Relative to Ticket Assignment Tenure Among Phase 1 TTW Participants Employed at Interview (Percentages)
  Employed TTW Participants
All Participants Assigned to EN Assigned to SVRA
Job tenure longer than Ticket assignment tenure 33 17 a 36
Months at job before Ticket assignment for those with job tenure longer than Ticket assignment tenure      
<3 months 14 2 15
3–6 months 21 9 22
7–11 months 18 28 17
12 months or more 47 61 46

Source: 2004 NBS. Sample size = 347.

Note: EN and SVRA assignment based on the provider to which a Ticket was assigned for the longest period during 2003.

a Statistically different from employed TTW participants with Tickets assigned to SVRAs at the .05 level, two-tailed test.

One important proximate explanation of the differences in pay and employee benefits by provider type is that a larger share of TTW participants served by SVRAs is in sheltered employment (Exhibit VI.6). That share (39 percent) is essentially the same as the share of all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries in sheltered employment.

Self-employment is somewhat less common among employed TTW participants than among all employed beneficiaries. This is especially true for those who assigned their Ticket to an EN.

We did not find noteworthy differences in occupation or industry by participation status or, among participants, by provider type (Exhibit VI.7). The seemingly large differences in some occupation and industry categories between those who assigned their Ticket to an EN and those who assigned it to an SVRA are not statistically significant, reflecting the relatively small samples for these two groups. Compared to all employed beneficiaries, employed TTW participants were less likely to be in transportation or material-moving occupations and also less likely to work in the health care or social services industry.

Exhibit VI.6. Sheltered and Self-Employment Among Working Phase 1 Beneficiaries

Exhibit VI.6. Sheltered and Self-Employment Among Working Phase 1 Beneficiaries
[D]

Source: 2004 NBS. Sample size = 593.

Note: EN and SVRA assignment based on the provider to which a Ticket was assigned for the longest period during 2003.

+ Difference between those who assigned a Ticket to an EN and those who assigned a Ticket to an SVRA is significant at the .05 level, two-tailed test.

 

Exhibit VI.7. Occupation and Industry of Working Phase 1 Beneficiaries (Percentages)
  All Employed Phase 1 Beneficiaries Employed TTW Participants
All Assigned to EN Assigned to SVRA
Occupation

 

 

 

 

Transportation and material moving 22 11 10 11
Office & admin support 16 21 15 22
Building/grounds cleaning & maintenance 13 17 14 17
Food prep & serving 9 11 11 11
Production 7 4 2 4
Sales 6 15 10 15
Personal care & service 5 5 12 4
Other occupation 20 16 24 14
Industry

 

 

 

 

Health care & social assistance 35 23 20 24
Retail trade 14 16 12 16
Accommodation & food services 9 16 10 17
Educational services 6 8 7 8
Admin/support & waste mgmt/remediation 5 8 5 8
Other services 5 3 4 2
Other industry 25 25 40 23

Source: 2004 NBS. Sample size = 593.

Note: EN and SVRA assignment based on the provider to which a Ticket was assigned for the longest period during 2003.

C. Use of Special Equipment or Assistance and Employer Accommodations

Compared with all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries, employed TTW participants were equally likely to report using personal assistance at work (24 percent) and only slightly less likely to use assistive technology at work (20 percent compared with 26 percent) (Exhibit VI.8). The overall statistic for the use of personal assistance by TTW participants masks a large difference by provider type. Those who assigned their Ticket to an EN were significantly less likely to report using personal assistance at work (8 percent) than those who assigned their Ticket to an SVRA (26 percent). Presumably, this difference reflects a difference between the two groups in the types of health conditions causing disability and/or the levels of functional impairment. There are no statistically significant differences by provider in the use of assistive technology.

Employed TTW participants and all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries were about equally likely to report that an employer made at least one accommodation (54 percent and 58 percent, respectively) (Exhibit VI.9). The most common type of accommodation was job-specific assistance provided by a co-worker or other person to a TTW participant. We did not find statistically significant differences in accommodations for employed participants by provider type.

Exhibit VI.8. Use of Special Equipment or Assistance at Work by Working Phase 1 Beneficiaries

Exhibit VI.8. Use of Special Equipment or Assistance at Work by Working Phase 1 Beneficiaries
[D]
Source: 2004 NBS. Sample size = 593.
Note: EN and SVRA assignment based on the provider to which a Ticket was assigned for the longest period during 2003.

+ Difference between those with Tickets assigned to an EN and those with Tickets assigned to an SVRA is significant at the .05 level, two-tailed test.

 

Exhibit VI.9. Employer-Provided Accommodations Among Working Phase 1 Beneficiaries

Exhibit VI.9. Employer-Provided Accommodations Among Working Phase 1 Beneficiaries
[D]

Source: 2004 NBS. Sample size = 527.

Note: Employer accommodation questions were not asked of self-employed respondents.

Less than 10 percent of all working beneficiaries indicated that changes were still needed to make their workplaces more accessible (Exhibit VI.10). The corresponding percentage for TTW participants is lower, but not significantly so, and differences by provider type are also small and insignificant.

Exhibit VI.10. Changes to the Workplace Still Needed, According to Phase 1 Beneficiaries

Exhibit VI.10. Changes to the Workplace Still Needed, According to Phase 1 Beneficiaries
[D]

Source: 2004 NBS. Sample size = 593.

Note: EN and SVRA assignment based on the provider to which a Ticket was assigned for the longest period during 2003.

D. Job Satisfaction

Respondents were asked how satisfied they were with their jobs overall and with several specific features of their jobs (Exhibit VI.11). In general, employed TTW participants and all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries reported similar levels of job satisfaction. Both groups were particularly likely to report being satisfied with the nonmonetary aspects of their job: receiving recognition, a feeling of accomplishment, supportive supervisors and co-workers, and interesting work. They were substantially less likely to be satisfied with the financial aspects of their jobs: pay, benefits, and chances for promotion.

Exhibit VI.11. Job Satisfaction Among Working Phase 1 Beneficiaries (Weighted Percentages)

 

All Employed Phase 1 Beneficiaries Employed TTW Participants
All Participants Assigned to EN Assigned to SVRA
Overall, very or somewhat satisfied with job 83 79 73 80
Agree/agree strongly that:        
Receives recognition/respect from others 91 88 81 89
Work gives feeling of accomplishment 90 87 79 88
Supervisor is supportivea 89 86 81 86
Work is interesting/enjoyable 88 84 83 84
Co-workers are friendly and supportive 83 89 88 89
Can work on own if desired 78 86 78 87
Can work with others/team if desired 76 79 76 80
Job security is good/work is steady 70 70 56b 72
There are chances to develop abilities 70 66 64 67
Pay is good 56 53 50 53
There are chances for promotiona 32 39 41 38
Benefits are good 32 37 45 36

Source: 2004 NBS. Sample size = 469.

Note: EN and SVRA assignment based on the provider to which a Ticket was assigned for the longest period during 2003. Proxy respondents were not asked job satisfaction questions.

a Question not asked of those who were self-employed.
b Significantly different from those with Tickets assigned to an SVRA at the .05 level, two-tailed test.

When compared to the general population of U.S. workers based on data from other national surveys, employed beneficiaries appear to be about equally satisfied with their jobs overall. A 2004 Gallup survey found that 89 percent of employed people surveyed were completely or somewhat satisfied with their jobs, a statistic fairly comparable to the 83 percent of beneficiaries who reported being very or somewhat satisfied with their jobs in the NBS. Although the wording of the satisfaction questions differ somewhat, when compared to national surveys of workers in general, employed beneficiaries do appear to be less satisfied with certain aspects of their jobs. Compared with the findings of other national surveys of workers in 2004, smaller shares of employed beneficiaries reported being satisfied with their job security (70 percent compared with 81 percent); pay (56 percent compared with 74 percent); employment benefits (32 percent compared with about 64 percent); and chances for promotion (32 percent compared with 70 percent) (American Enterprise Institute 2005).

For most items, the level of satisfaction did not vary by TTW participation status or provider type. Although employed participants who had assigned their Ticket to an EN had relatively high pay, they were no more satisfied with their pay than either all employed beneficiaries or those who had assigned their Ticket to an SVRA. Employed participants served by either type of provider were somewhat more likely to report prospects for promotion than were all employed beneficiaries (39 percent versus 32 percent), so it is possible that both their satisfaction with their pay, and their actual pay itself, will improve. Consistent with the findings on benefit receipt, participants who assigned their Ticket to an EN were more likely than others to report that their benefits were good (45 percent).

The beneficiaries described in this chapter—TTW participants in Phase 1 states who were working in 2004—are, as a group, perhaps closest to achieving the TTW goals of increased earnings and reduced benefits. The next chapter focuses on beneficiaries who were not attempting to increase earnings or reduce benefits via participation in TTW in 2004, and reviews evidence on their interest in pursuing these goals in the future.

 


1 Some NBS respondents were employed at more than one job at the time they were interviewed. Respondents with multiple jobs were asked to identify and focus on the job they deemed their “main” job for many of the survey questions. The main job is defined as the job at which the respondent works the most hours. In this chapter, we focus only on the characteristics of the main job. (back)

2 Sample sizes for Tickets assigned to SVRAs are too small to allow meaningful analysis of the sample assigned under the new payment systems to SVRAs. Only 337 respondents in the participant sample were employed. In this group, 98 had Tickets assigned under the milestone-outcome system, 122 under the outcome-only system, and 127 under the traditional payment system; 162 had Tickets assigned to SVRAs and 185, to ENs; only 35 had Tickets assigned to SVRAs under one of the new payment systems. (back)

3 The sample was too small to produce meaningful separate estimates for pipeline and nonpipeline cases. (back)

4 Given that the TTW participation rate was less than 1 percent and that employed TTW participants represent only about 3 percent of all employed Phase 1 beneficiaries, it is clear that there is far more employment among beneficiaries than there is use of TTW services (not shown in the exhibit). (back)

5 The SGA level for those with vision impairments was $1,350 in 2004. (back)

6 EN providers may have been serving beneficiaries under SSA’s Alternate Participant (AP) program; however, as noted in a previous report, very few beneficiaries were ever successfully served under this program (see Livermore et al. 2003). In addition, these beneficiaries would have been grandfathered in under the AP program after TTW rollout. (back)

7 Phase 1 had been rolled out for 15 months at the start of the NBS in February 2004 and for 23 months when the survey ended the following October. (back)

 

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