There’s Plenty You Should Know About Social Security Disability Benefits!

woman in wheelchair Life is unpredictable. When something interrupts your plans, it’s good to know there’s a way to supplement your income, in case of an unexpected life event.

Social Security has a strict definition of disability based on your inability to work and provide for yourself and your family. Disability benefits are available only to people with impairments so severe that they prevent any kind of significant, profitable work. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.

We pay disability via two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program, for people who have worked and paid Social Security taxes long enough to be eligible, and the Supplemental Security Income program, which pays benefits based on financial need.

When you apply for either program, we will collect medical and other information from you. Our disability examiners will make a decision about whether or not you can do work that you did before, adjust to other work because of your medical condition, and if your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or is likely to result in death.

Certain factors may speed or delay the decision in your case, like the nature of your disability and how quickly we can get your medical records. We may also need to send you for an additional medical examination at no cost to you.

If you would like to apply for disability benefits, you can use our online application. It has several advantages, including immediately starting the process, no waiting to get an appointment, and no trip to a Social Security Office. It’s easy, convenient, and secure.

You can find out everything there is to know about disability benefits online.


61 thoughts on “There’s Plenty You Should Know About Social Security Disability Benefits!

      • I have been on both sides of the table, giving the intake evaluation and receiving the evaluation. It is very tough on both accounts. The person giving the intake is overworked and emotional drained. The person receiving the intake is exhausted, sick, and broken – emotionally, physically, and financially. It is hard to think of these things on both sides of the table when every day is a battle. To serve and give help and to ask and receive help. We need to try to remember we are all people who need kindness and understanding. It is difficult when so much is happening, but it is all in our best interest to try and give a bit of kindness. Sometimes a person just needs to know they are worth being heard, on both sides of the table. Is important to fight for yourself, but not so much that you miss out on help or acts of kindness. I have been on a long battle for my health for almost 15 years. I have learned to step back to protect myself, but to also listen. One last thing, document every call, every event, every thing. It will protect you and save you time, money and energy. Thank you

    • We apologize and we regret to hear you did not receive the level of customer service you expected. To submit your comment, complaint or suggestion, you can write to us or send us an email message. Keep in mind that you can ask to speak to a supervisor and report any deficiencies immediately when they occur. Thanks.

  1. I don’t know how disability works or what needs to be done in order to receive it but, I’m sure I know someone who is committing fraud in the system, that and also the care someone is supposed to be giving her. I don’t know what to do about it or if I even should?
    This is our hard earned dollars being abused and why our country is in such a mess.

    • How do you know? To qualify for Social Security Disability, one must have medical confirmation of a disability so severe as to make gainful employment impossible. All cases are periodically reviewed, with the recipients’ doctors needing to provide verification that one is unable to pursue gainful employment. Our govt. does, indeed, work to ensure that no one is receiving a penny of aid for which they don’t qualify.

    • There are alot of people that need SSI including me. Others that get it for just there neck or psychology or etc just to get SSI. So they don’t have to work.I don’t get much a month. If everyone turned in all these people that don’t deserve it. Maybe we can get a. raise. My opinion turn them in. Be honest you will feel better about yourself.

      • Your post is so full of incorrect, false, and just plain ridiculous statements that I don’t even know where to begin. SSI and SSDI are two completely different things. to start with. For SSDI you have to have worked first least ten years and what you draw IF you become disabled and TOTALLY UNABLE to work EVER AGAIN, which takes literally years to prove to meet their tough standards for dissbility is determined by your WAGES during ALL your working years. Further, SSDI is funded by WORKERS’ SALARIES, money that’s taken out of every check you’ve ever made.

        SSI is a SEPARATE program for disabled people who HAVE LITTLE TO NO INCOME or resources-in other words, poor people – and thus can’t work. It’s NOT funded by the Social Security accoun but is from the general fund, i.e., it is a form of welfare. Because the Social Security Administration is efficient, the SSA manages both programs to SAVE MONEY ON ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS. Why have 2 agencies do the same thing when one can handle both?

        Now, as far as people getting disability payments “for just there [sic] neck or psychology [sic],” you couldn’t be more incorrect and judgmental if you tried. As I and several other posters have said, it is extremely difficult to be approved for SSDI; it can take up to THREE YEARS, during which time you are having to come up with tons of CREDIBLE, REAL, CONVINCING PROOD, that also FITS INTO THE SSA’s definition of disabled. That is NOT easy, and no, people are NOT getting it by “faking” a hurt neck or “psychology.”

        You clearly have absolutely NO medical knowledge, and since you obviously did not read this article, much less the website you are commenting on here, you have no udea how extremely difficult it is to prove your the SSA that you’re disabled enough to receive benefits. Even if they do finally rule that you are, they continue to REVIEW your case every few years as ling as you’re on disability, to make sure you are STILL TOTALLY disabled and unable to work at ANY job., Plus, they DO monitor any records that may be connected with you (taxes, income, support, inheritances, etc.) that might disqualify you from receiving benefits. These FALSE claims politicians – and people like you – make about “fraud, waste, and abuse” are FALSE.

        The truth is, the biggest source of fraud and abuse in EVERY government program is CORPORATE FRAUD in the MILLIONS of dollars, not little people cadging the extra $100 here and thete, though they do prosecute them, too. But the government DOES catch and bust the corporated fraudsters every day. You can read every case report on the official government websites as these are a matter of public record if you want the facts, instead of swallowing without question the hatefu rantings of ill-informed, ignorant, biased radio and ultra right-wing “news” sources (like for instance Breitbart, that rag that publishes outrageous, insane stories they created out of thin air, bigotry, hatred, and greed).

        If you cannot be bothered with the FACTS, then stop complaining and blaming your problems on innocent people whom you malign without a shred of evidence or even knowledge of what you’re talking about. And if you have a complaint about getting a “raise,” you should call your Congress persons, because CONGRESS VOTES WHETHER OR NOT SOCIAL SECURITY, WELFARE, or anyone else gets anything or cut or – what they’re working on now – nothing at all.

        • Bless you Marc! You said everything I felt about ‘just’ having psychological problems…if I COULD work, I WOULD work.

          Thanks for all of the info about difference between SSI vs SSDI.

          Your’re an articulate, compassionate and knowledgeable advocate.

          • Amen, WOULD LOVE TO HAVE been able bodied and minded to work, knowing its hard, but this is hell, they know nothing of,, you should hear what I hear and feel right now, but you can’t and “YOU’RE MORE THAN BLESSED” Like God said, “DON’T JUDGE HER, YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT I ASKED HER TO DO” And could be part of the reason those that can work, do,,

        • Just had to say THANK YOU for so eloquently stating all the facts nobody seems to understand about the Disability programs!!!

        • Approved on SSDI July 15 after six months and half received the first benifits for January on end of Jan to 1st day of February. No RETROACTIVE for the first five months and Half. Just in case you die in a waiting period of Five months . Your Family get only for $ 255.00 for burial expenses . Nota single benifits of SSDI because you die in a waiting period of Five months! I think this is NOT FAIR to a member who is really Disabled and might die early on a sudden death like Hearthsttack , STROKE or others illness. There is no Benifits coming from any other Insurance like former employer.. Because the member is not working for the last Four years Before applying SSDI..Is there any hope in any Back payment of thesaid wIting period of Five months ?

        • MARC!
          Wow! Thank you thank you thank you and thank you! My pet peeve is ignorant people! People that speak words that they think they know what they mean and they think they know what they’re talking about are the stupidest people on the planet! Definitely judgemental, definitely casting a big asshole sticker on their forehead! I’m not even going to try to pretend to be nice here. Shame Shame Shame Kim! I, like Marc, highly suggest you do a bit (oh scratch that)… I mean a whole lot of research! You know read case studies, peer-reviewed articles, study statistics, perhaps a bit of anatomy and physiology and psychology classes would do you a bit of good as well!!!

        • I didn’t know there was a difference. I thought both a disability and no income were required in order to receive any disability benefits. I was aware of the paying in for 10 years requirement.

          • Hi Jane. We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The SSI program is a needs-based program that pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. SSI benefits also are payable to people aged 65 and older who have limited income and resources. SSDI benefits, on the other hand, are based on earnings and are not subject to income and resource limits. When it comes to qualifying for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program, you must be “currently insured” or have worked long enough–and recently enough—under Social Security. We hope this information helps.

    • Thank you for your comment Yolanda. If you suspect fraud, waste or abuse of Social Security benefits we encourage you to report it.


    • You, my dear, are sadly mistaken. They are under such scrutiny to kick people off, even though they paid in for years, and a physician.caused the disability with a botched surgery.
      I know, I was just one who became homeless, and many others have, because “the rules ” are often not explained, you work a bit and it “goes over”. You get a raise, and it “goes over ” all while trying to get reestablished so no insurance is needed. They don’t hesitate to pull the rug right from under you! I hope you never need it!
      Nobody ever informs you of these “months of significant work”, or when it is or isn’t. It is such that way that one kind person literally has to tell people “don’t earn over”.. this much”.or you’ll have trouble with it again.”
      I saw, posted on a big screen, that they have “recovered” so many billions of dollars. They have really gone through great lengths to find any way to take back what they can, creating lots of scenarios and schemes to do so. Six years of harassment here, even though I am.trying hard to reestablish myself with a new degree and career. Most don’t seem to care but, occasionally, you find someone with empathy who works hard to help you help yourself.

    • This is the biggest BS. Anyone that has ever navigated the SSD intake program, can tell you, there is a better chance that you will win the lottery, before getting excepted onto the rolls of disability when you are truly NOT totally disabled. the above commenter surely speaks from a time 20 years ago, when one could walk into an SS office, and 4 weeks later, they are getting a check in the mail. Today is a very different time in Social Security. If you were to believe the Republican babble spewed in the above comment, you’d also have to believe that the Fed employs monkey’s as claims adjusters. Trump is proving to be unqualified for the job as President. He will be in for one term unless he’s indicted before it ends! 35% rating…..the lowest for any president EVER! And he’s only 2 months into his term. NICE !!

    • You can’t just jump from unemployment to disability. Disability takes three years or longer in some cases of being unable to work or receive any funds while you prove your case , hoping your family is kind enough to offer their home to you cause you’ve lost yours to drs bills and inability to have any income. I hope you don’t ever find yourself in need, being sick sucks, having people judge you for being sick sucks even more. But I guess that Goldman Sachs Cabinet of Trumps is going to fix everything.

  3. I am on disability. Our income is greater than going on
    SSI. I am on alot of medication, besides diabetic and on two types of insulin, high blood pressure, high colostrol,
    high herea heart problems, etc. My husband is also on Heart medication and high colostrol. I will soon get into the GAP with my insurance and will have to pay 100 percent of the cost of my medications. We have to decide if we buy food or put out for the medications. Is there something I can do?

    • I was also in your shoes, with many of the same illnesses.
      I am in no place to give you advice, but started learning about how the body works (and is a fine engine that works hard to repair itself; given the right tools. Often, that isn’t the medication we are given, at least long term.
      After I could no.linger afford my medications, I slowly went off all. I don’t know all of it, but a diet without all of the processed food that we allow on the market, and a bit more movement as able. A book named Younger Next Year, by two Drs (sorry, they are packed in.a box, after another move), I don’t remember their names, but it is easy to find with a Google search, or at the bookstore, these Drs inform.about the processed going on inside the body, and how imperative, sick or not, it is too be bodies. It’s in layman’s terms, so easy to understand, for the most part.
      I know it is tough, with diabetes, but a diet rich in.all of the colors of the rainbow (fruits and veggies) is imperative for healing.
      There is so much information out on healing with good today. I hope you get to find a couple soon!

    • Hi Loretta, you may want to check and see if you are eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include Medicaid, which may help pay for your medication. You can get information about services in your area from your local social services office. Or you can visit the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services web page for more information. We hope this helps.

    • check out one of the big pharmacies generic programs for 90 days of meds. ask your doctor to change your med to one in the same class that is generic or ask the pharmaceutical company if they have a program to pay for your meds at a discounted price.

  4. Hi,
    God grace you. I am very passing with finacialship to pass the hardships,neither I have got Unemployment benefits so far after applied in Taxas Workforce comission nor I have got disability benefits so far,and neither I have got any job here after applying in various,it seems the mockery claim of the government of U.S.A where without money it is hard to lead the life .Now it is my suggestion to US gov. to open one more department,and name after that “Clinging on Neck Commision” on new commer in U.S.A.

    • Judging from the comments here, I don’t think any official reads these.

      Social Security does not have “strict definitions” of disability, else applicants would be approved within 30 days. Instead, lawyers and advocates delay the approval process in order to collect a percentage of the disabled/poor person’s entitlement, and this often takes 2+ years so that they can collect their own big welfare check at the expense of the least of us. In addition, as is common in courts, there are “experts” waiting for their own welfare checks – such as when a disabled person with, for example, neurofibromatosis, gets a mental health professional assigned to him to violate him with mental health testing. The primary purpose of this is to get that professional paid, with the secondary purpose being violating the disabled person and creating harmful records on him.

      The scandal and fraud in the social security disability system is not committed by the poor and disabled people.

        • The rules require documentation that is credible that you have a condition severe enough to last a year or result in death that prevents substantial and gainful employment for a year or more for jobs that exist in significant numbers in the NATIONAL economy. That is Congress, who you helped elect. It is not the agency. You can’t be paid based on “I am disabled”. It requires proof based on Congressionally provided standards with case law considerations that establishes levels of proof. Most doctors sell you straight down the river because they fail to fill out a short questionnaire or provide evidence. The other issue is that while Congress speaks about undocumented “waste” to stir up the natives to get elected, what they are really doing is understaffing the agency and forcing offices to close in the name of “getting government off your backs.” You fall for it you pay the price. Want a better agency that serves you. You might consider voting for it.

      • Why don’t you READ THE SSA RULES FOR DISABILITY instead of making false claims based on your own OPINIONS and the OPINIONS of others. Facts directly from the LAW – yes, Social Security, INCLUDING Social Security Disability Insurance, was created by and is operated by LAW. If you want to know what the law says, read the law. Would you let your auto mechanic do a heart transplant on you? Get your information from the ORIGINAL SOURCE, in this case, federal law, That way, at least you’ll have the correct information you need to base your opinions on rather than fantasies created by others in order to scare you…just like fairy tales were intended to get you to obey ypur parents when you were little.

    • You need to learn the language of the USA, which is English, which is obviously not your native tongue. That or you are illiterate and that is the reason you cannot get a job. You have to have paid into the system to get money out of the SSD program.


    • Yes, if what you are saying is true, you should have a police report! The first thing you should do is, call your local SSI office. Make an appointment RIGHT AWAY !! Take your police record in with you. SSI should already be aware of the identity theft. The checks should have already stopped. But once you get there, they will get you to sign an affidavit, if you haven’t already. They will make the appropriate notes in your file. They will tell you where you stand as to benefits. If they believe that you may have some complicity in the theft, or allowing someone else to use your SS number, than they will investigate you. But chances are, they have already ! If all is good, you get all your credits back. Hope it alll works out for you!


    • YOU NEED TO CALL THE POLICE !! Are you related to this person ?? Where you married to them at one time?? I can’t believe SSI has not interceded and frozen your SS number along with all active benefits !!! This story does NOT add up ! But that’s not to say that it can’t happen. Get back to me and let me know regarding my above questions

    • Hi Della. Generally, reports and investigations of identity theft are handled by the Federal Trade Commission. You can find more information from their website: Or you may call them at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338).

  7. della crews, please UNLOCK CAPS and use lower case or regular sentence structure.

    it’s too hard to read and it’s considered “shouting” to those reading this.

    it’s DIFFICULT to get ssdi benefits! you have to have drawers full of medical documentation files of supportive drs. showing their records agree with when you explain why you no longer can do sustainable work

    took me 5 yrs. & 2 apps to be approved. i have 3 full drawers full of 4 drawer file cabinet!!

  8. When I turned 65 my Disability reverted to just Social Security for my 50 years of working at a variety of Jobs including hard rock underground mining and coal mining. Iv’e 3 knee surgeries, 3 shoulder surgeries, an surgically amputated index finger, multiple broken bones (9), both rheumatoid and osteo arthritis. and macular degeneration in one eye. Will the IRS contact me about paying federal
    Income Taxes on the measly amount I receive? I’m pretty well crippled up, with a knee replacement having been diagnosed and the cost of it will require me to pay 20% plus Meds, Radiologist, therapy, and Taxi rides.

    • Guarantee it. This year, I am audited on 9 grand in income. When I made a search to find out what they feel they would gain from a poor person, I learned that this year they are targeting the very rich and very poor.

      I know many business owners, and the amount of things they deduct, even for grown kids phones and fuel is nauseating. Its fraud, but who is looking? Then the subsidies. Do we want to get into the corporate welfare/subsides?
      I feel a firestorm coming!

  9. this reply is to RC and Suzanna…. I do understand your stress with and within the system. I am on SSD, and have been since 2009. I was approved in 6 months, never denied once. Here’s why….I was hurt 25 years ago. 3 ruptured discs in my lower back.I was out for 7 years on workers comp. Probably saw 15 different orthopedic and neuro surgeons and doctors, when I finally decided to have surgery. even though I was still in some pain, I was more bored being at home. I went back to work. I worked with a bad back and left leg. Right up till 2003, I learned to deal with the pain. But like the body does, it slowly starts to get worse. I see more Doctors while stilll working. I have a big lumbar fusion surgery, which the doctor s crews up. 6 weeks later another surgeon attempts to ripe all the last doctors hardware out of my back to put new straight hardware back in. He got 2/3 the way and couldn’t get the last and lowest disc to release the incorrect hardware out. So boom…I’m screwed. I awake and my back and especially my left leg feel like they are on fire!!! Now a little more than 20 years after my accident, it’s clear….I can’t work. So now, here’s why my case went so quick and so well. after I applied for benefits, I myself got certified copies of ALL MY MEDICAL REPORTS !! Thats right, from every doctor I had seen. 24 of them. physical therapists as well. All my tests as well. Everything !!! Medical records is the one biggest delay in SSD. Because your claims ajuster will NOT begin to read over and assess your file until they have ALL YOUR RECORDS!!! Doctors offices take an average of 4 months to send SSI your doctors notes. But there is always one set of notes that take 6-7 months. The claims scoring itself takes 4-6 weeks. Another thing I did was wrote the claims person assigned to me, and asked if there was anything I could do to make his gathering work easier. Did he need me to call any medical office that he had to get anything from, to get it to him faster. They were short notes !! But after 6 months, one morning I awoke, and I had a text saying there was $14,000 in my checking acct. I had the money before I was even notified of the approval !! NO ONE GOT A PIECE OF MY CHECK.!!!!! I hired no lawyer !! You truly don’t need one. Neither do you need any of these rip off SSD services to help steal your money. YOU NEED THREE THINGS…..1 YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY BE DISABLED, TOTALLY ……2 GET ALL YOUR MEDICAL RECORDS AND GIVE THEM TO THE CLAIMS PERSON HANDLING YOUR CASE…….AND 3 ……ASK IF THEY NEED HELP GETTING YOUR FILE RECORDS TOGETHER. If you’re denied, and you feel that you are medically qualified to get benefits, then talk to a good lawyer, not one you see on TV. These folks know those guys. They know that they will take ANY case. So you will probably get denied over and over. be prepared when you file. If not, prepare to loose !!

  10. Social Security Administration office only hires people who don’t speak English to do their claim benefits. These people are new immigrants, severe accent, violate human rights, and SSA does this on purpose because they know they can get away with it. If you search the U.K. Europe you’ll soon learn this denial and stealing of peoples benefits has been going on for over a decade and they continuously spend money on technology that separates SSA workers from SSA applicants. Bottom line is SSA should be shut down. Permanently. A new agency should be put in place because this is failing the American people and SSA is timing people out of their benefits. When you work all those years did they request permission to take money out of your paycheck? The answer is No. Why is it when you get into a car accident, illness happens that meds cannot control and your health worsens and now on top of health problems you now have financial worries, the stress is enough to drive people to suicide or the illness will kill them in addition you have now become a burden to your family. So why is SSA denying people their benefits that is rightfully there’s? Why do they even have to prove their disability? If anyone looks at the back of their social security card you will read SSA is a division of Health and Human Services however the SSA office hires people who obey “rules” set up by SSA that’s ignores people’s health and don’t act human. I’ve said my peace. If every American who was denied their right to benefits had a voice instead of crying this SSA would’ve been closed down years ago.

  11. Does anyone have spell check? Does anyone use it? Comments in all caps are hard to read, and still, to me, feel like shouting.

  12. If you are getting disability benefits ssdi and have a child whose mother is getting child benefits because of the father’s disability, what happens to the income Child benefits when the father makes sga working through the trial work period and is not going to receive ssdi anymore?

    • Thank you for your question Aaron. Generally, entitlement for the child ends the first month the Number Holder (NH) is no longer entitled to a disability insurance benefit.

  13. I broke my back in June 2016 and applied for disability like in July 2016. I was denied in Dec 2016 so I appealed. The average wait time for my area is 15 months. Is there anything else I can do to expedite this case.

    • Hi Thomas. The length of time it takes to get a hearing can vary from state to state. We attempt to resolve all claims promptly, but there may be delays due to the volume of pending appeals in your area. The good news is that we are trying to conduct many of our hearings through video teleconferencing (VTC) to speed up the process. Visit our “Hearing And Appeals” web page for more information, and continue working with your local hearing office on specific questions about your case. Thanks !

  14. We have a problem with our government when it comes to getting your disability. Why does it take so long to get MY money not the government money? I am slowing losing everything I have worked for since I was 14. I am now 52 and cannot work. Please tell me what it the longest you have to wait (surely the government has a deadline like they do for paying your taxes) to get your disability? I cannot pay my monthly bills so I could possibly lose my house. Please help!!!

    • Thank you for your comment Evonne. The length of time it takes to receive a decision on your disability claim can vary depending on several factors, such as the nature of your disability and how quickly we obtain medical evidence from your doctor or other medical sources. See “How The Disability Process Works” for more information. If you were initially denied and appealed the decision, a final determination will take longer. Please continue working with your local office if you have specific questions about your claim. You can also call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance. Representatives are available between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Thanks.

  15. social security has made a big mess of things for me and i don’t know what to do.
    i have been on disability ssi/ssa for around four years now, i am an the middle of a review appeal which is stressful enough but around a month ago i find out my insurance isn’t working so i go to social security and apparently my ssa only (not ssi) was accidentally terminated through their system. the lady that worked with me was surprisingly very kind and understanding and sent in a request to fix it right away. i thought, thank goodness that mess is sorted out. well due to the error, i recently received a letter from ssa saying my ssa payment would be deducted 134 dollars per month and took 300 dollars this month for “medicare back due payments” which because i am on disability should not have to be paid and this was all because of the accidental termination. i was told by social security to go to access florida because they’re the ones that pay the medicare, i went and the worker helped me file papers, then i went to the ss office to ask about my payments because the letter made it sound like i would still get paid my normal amount this month but the lady was absolutely unhelpful and quite rude. she just kept interrupting me saying there’s nothing we can do and that i was wrong about the payment set up on the letter. i went back to access florida after (embarrassingly crying and having an anxiety attack) asking if he has any idea when i would get my payments back and if they will pay me what they now owe me and he doesnt have an answer for me. either way i am in need of that money for bills and i am going through this because of their screw ups and nobody can give me a solid answer. i feel hopeless.

    • We apologize for this inconvenience. Please continue working with your local office and know you can request to speak with the local office manager to see how we can help to expedite resolution of your situation. If you are unable to visit your local servicing office, you may call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213, representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks.

  16. The only thing I know is 100% accurate is that people who have put in don’t get to have a say so. people who have not worked get benefits. Not all people are trying to scam the government. Some of us are truly in need of this. After all why do we call it security. ?

  17. I wish there was a way you could update your account on line if you are able to work part time. Instead of having to make an appointment for a phone call or go into a office.

    • Hi Tim, please read our publication “Working While Disabled – How We Can Help”, to learn more about the special rules that make it possible for people receiving Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments. Thanks!

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