Guided Path 2-1 Social Security Basics Refresher

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People make a lot of assumptions about Social Security, and unfortunately, this mistake can come back to bite once you are ready to retire. Despite what many might think, you’ll want to learn about Social Security benefits long before you retire and this episode is the perfect place to do just that! In this episode, Tyler Williamson shares his expertise about Social Security and explains how you can avoid some of the common mistakes people make when planning their income before and during retirement. Zacc, Laura, and Tyler discuss: What you have to look forward to in this season, how to maximize your benefit of Social Security during retirement, common mistakes retirees make when taking out their Social Security and how you can avoid them, how Social Security is nationally accumulated and how the US is planning to, support the overwhelming size of the baby boomer population, and more.

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[00:00:00] Welcome to The Financial Call. We are financial advisors on a mission to guide you through the financial planning everyone should have, whether you're doing it yourself or working with a financial advisor, these episodes will help you break down complicated financial topics into practical, actionable steps. Our mission is to guide motivated people to become financially successful. Welcome to The Financial Call we're back. Season two. So if you've binge watched season one, because you couldn't get enough of financial planning, which we, we kind of joke that maybe we should give people a gift card. If they binge watched it, that's true. You can get through it in two days, we'll send you a gift card and we're hoping that these episodes get better and better. So if you made it through season one, it's all up from here, right? Yeah. Or all downhill from here, whatever you wanna say. Yes. It's all better. It's all better. It's all better from here on out. We have Tyler back. Tyler helped us with one episode within season one having to do with social security. The entire second season is on

[00:01:00] social security. So we're going to lay that out for you and give you a feel for what you're about. Ready to learn. This may sound weird to have an entire season on social security. And we, I mentioned this before. This might be because it's an expertise of Capita’s. It's something that we spend a lot of time analyzing and giving guidance and advice on social security. So we have our own tools. We have our own under well, we have an understanding of really complex rules that affect people. I thought I knew about social security before I came to Capita and then I came to Capita and Tyler, who's with us today. And Mike, they would give presentations on social security and it was eye-opening how much I did not know about social security. So this will be fun. Let's go through Laura, the season itself. And then today is an intro. So we're really just wanting to lay the groundwork for you so that you can understand the other five episodes. Today is a social security intro with

[00:02:00] Tyler. And then next time Laura and I will do, how is your benefit calculated? This one is important because as you are working, especially if you are self-employed, there are some options here to control how much you pay in taxes and how much you contribute towards social security. And there's definitely strategy involved there. So keep in mind. These social security conversations are not just for people 62 and older. This is for anybody. And we're going to tell you why they're taking money from your paycheck, every paycheck for this. And Zacc, I wanted to say something on that because I think we see a lot of situations where. Maybe a self-employed individual working with a CPA or a payroll company. They're not well versed in how social security works and you know, how those contributions affect future social security benefits. And so I think they'll just kind of, you know, elect whatever amount to be claimed as income, which will in the future affect your social security benefit. But because they don't know and understand it, how it's gonna affect

[00:03:00] your future. They typically get it wrong and we'll see them split income between like a husband and a wife for two partners when really they should be doubling up and putting all the income on one of the partners and maybe nothing or very little to the other partner. Right, right. Absolutely. There are what they call bend points in the calculation. So we'll go over that in the episode. And then episode three will be spousal strategies with Mike. Mike is our founder and really built the company on retiree, income planning and investment planning. So this will be really good. We'll talk about all the spousal strategies that existed before and what's available now and how you can take advantage. It definitely is a team sport, divorce, and death. See his episode, this is kind of a fun one. It's fun, but it sounds terrible. No, it does sound terrible. Yeah, absolutely. Sounds terrible. It's to death. We're just so used to it. We didn't even think about that. That's true. It didn't even trigger anything. That's hilarious. Jason has a fun story scenario with his son that we'll go through. Yeah, we might actually, in fact, we have told people to get divorced and then get remarried. Yeah. So,

[00:04:00] you know, stay tuned for episode four, to try to understand that Tyler you've been involved in that. Yeah, we did one. We broke up a marriage and then repaired it. Yeah, it's repaired, but that couple's getting an extra $2,000 a month. Yes, because of it. So yes, this is one of those things that I never would've thought of before coming to Capita. Okay. Episode five is going to be highly specialized. So this is WEP and GPO. This is for people who have a government pension of some type, and they get penalized on their social security benefits. And these two penalties apply to entirely different benefits for social security and they're calculated a different way, but they apply to the same person who has a government pension. So someone who's subject to one of the penalties needs to understand both of them. We have some employers around town who opt out of social security. And so we teach those groups how to understand the WEP and GPO penalties. And in some cases we can eliminate them

[00:05:00] and in most cases it's just managing them and trying to minimize them. Last one is when should you file? So this one is episode six, it brings it all together. And we find that there are two or three mistakes that not only individuals make, but frankly, a lot of advisors often make in trying to calculate how old you need to live in order to make up for lost social security. When you choose to wait to take your benefits. So that calculation of, well, should I take it now? Should I take it later? And when do I catch up and when is it the same? And when is it better? We're going to go through all of that in six, but you have to understand these first five in order to fully grasp the final decision of exactly when to file. So that's our plan. That's the season. I'm glad you're with us. And then let's just talk about first. Why is social security important? Anybody wanna go? Yeah, I'll jump into that. So I think retirees and future retirees overlook the importance of social

[00:06:00] security as part of the overall plan. When I think of retirement, I think of, you know, we've all seen that diagram of that three-legged stool, right? And each leg has a different role in the retirement plan. So you've got your pension maybe, and we're not seeing as many pensions anymore, but for those older retirees, you've got your pension. You've got your 401k 403B IRA, those types of assets. And then that third leg. Is social security. And I think a lot of people overlook how important that third leg is. And so they just say, ah, it might be there. It may not be there. I'm not gonna worry about it. But I think for most of us, it's gonna be there in the future. Maybe not to the same extent that it is for retirees today, but we've gotta understand this benefit and how it's calculated and how it affects us. As an individual, how it affects us as a spouse, if there's a death or a divorce in the future, how that's gonna affect us. So it is critical. Let me share a quick story to illustrate this. So I was doing a presentation to one of the school districts here locally. This was about a year ago. And about two weeks after this event, I had one of the retirees come in and share her story with me.

[00:07:00] She was a single lady. She had been married in the past and that previous marriage lasted 10 years. And that's important that it lasted 10 years, but her marriage lasted that long. She was 68 at the time and was planning to work until 70 years old. What she didn't realize is because she had been married in the past. For at least a decade, she was entitled at her current age of 68 to be receiving a divorced spousal social security benefit, even while she's working. So she's working, making 60,000 a year as an educator. She didn't realize that she was leaving money on the table from this divorce spouse. And so we quickly identified that we were able to go back and backdate her benefit. Six months. That's the furthest back that you can back date. So we were able to pick her up, you know, a few thousand dollars and then moving forward, she was able to be on a $1,500 a month benefit. And the plan for her is then at, you know, she's gonna defer her own benefit until 70. And one thing that you'll learn throughout this season is that if you defer your own benefit

[00:08:00] every year, you defer it, you get 8% growth on your personal benefit. So she's taking a divorce spousal. And then she'll switch over to her own personal benefit, having maximized that because she's delayed it. And I think her own benefit was gonna be in the ballpark of 2,500. So she gets 1500 a month from 68 to 70, and then she gets to step up to $2,500 a month as soon as she's 70 years old. And this is information that unfortunately. Is just not taught. Right. Social security does not do a great job of educating the general population about social security. And I even feel like within our space of being a financial advisor, there's a lot of financial advisors that don't even understand this. Zacc, you mentioned I'm raising my hand. Like I didn't, until I came to Capita bottom line, you know, it's your previous firm fidelity, this is something they would actually I think encourage you not to talk about right. Because no, they wanted us to talk about it and they wrote articles about it. I remember I walked kinda to give you a quick story. I, the environment isn't as team based there. So there were about 20 advisors in the office that I worked in.

[00:09:00] And I remember going to one of the senior advisors and by the way, I have so many great friends from there. I love them. In fact, you know, we've had a lot of them join us. Yeah. So, and that's why we love him so much. But anyway, the bottom line is I walked down the hall to one of the senior advisors and asked him, and they wanted us to understand social security, but there's a difference between understanding social security and being able to strategize beyond it. Yes. Right. So, I understood it to a certain level and thought that I was strategizing well. There were about three degrees further than if I had gone that much further, like an example is you're talking about backdating six months. I didn't know that that was possible. I knew what benefits were available, but I didn't, I didn't actually file benefits for people and with people in the office together. So you didn't get used to what was available to you. Right. So I remember I walked down the hall and asked one of the more senior advisors and he said, Well, here are two articles, read them, and I don't really have time to talk to you because I don't blame him. We had such a sales, pressured environment that

[00:10:00] time he spent with me was detrimental to his own family and time and time life. Yeah. And so it was just a very different environment, but we understood it to a certain degree, but not what you're talking about. And let's talk really quickly. Let me ask you a question. So Tyler, that example that you're talking about. Had you met the person let's say at 64 years old, if I'm not mistaken, there's 18 months of benefits that she missed because she was 68. And you were able to back-date for six months, right? That's exactly right. Yeah. She could have started at 66. Yeah. And we've been presenting in this district for quite a while. I don't know if she'd attended before, but had we met her at 66 We would've immediately begun divorce spousal benefits. She would've been picking up $1,500 a month, starting at 66 and could have done that until 70. And that's switched over. I'm just running the numbers. That's $72,000 from 66 stage 70 $1,500 a month. That's another 70,000 that she's just missing out on. And her benefit at 70 is the same either way, whether she takes this spousal

[00:11:00] or not, right, she's still gonna get the same benefit on her own benefit at 70. Now, luckily you caught it before she missed out on 72. She only missed out on 27,000 because of the 18,000. For a year and a half, two months. Yeah. I'm not good at math. I calculated that earlier by the way, I can't, that probably sounds really impressive, but I've got my calculator here. I was impressed. I have to say, well, I can't, I can't take credit for that. Mike can do that by the way, our founder, he's just like really fast with mental math. Okay. So that is a great example. Of the importance of social security, we believe it's so important that you should start with a social security strategy in most income planning scenarios, where you are trying to figure out the retirement transition. And the big question is I feel like there are two big questions that somebody who's in their early sixties wants to figure out : can I retire? And two, am I gonna run outta money? Yeah. Right. And then it, all the rest is just how right. But the big question is, can I do it? And will I run out and. The first part in that plan is to

[00:12:00] determine what social security strategies are available to the individual. Because think about this. If they don't have other assets, they may have to just take social security. And if they have other assets, then they may have the ability to take it or leave it. If they have a couple, they might be able to strategize and do different things between them. Spousal benefits, survivor benefits. I had a lady who had been married three times. All marriages lasted more than 10 years. And two of her ex spouses had passed away. So it was super confusing trying to figure out what benefit to take and when the reality was it wasn't which benefit to take it was in what order should we stage these benefits? She had two survivor benefits, one. Spousal benefit and her own benefit. There were four different choices and they all had different ages and different amounts. And we picked two of them that made the most sense and started one and then will flip to the other when the other one's grown. It was crazy. Yeah. And I think a lot of retirees don't realize that, you know, they think when

[00:13:00] I go to file, I'm just gonna take one benefit. I'm gonna stay on that forever. When in reality, we, when we do strategies here in our office, it's not rare. You know, an individual will start on one type of social security benefit and then switch to another one later and it might involve divorce. Who knows. Right. That's exactly right. That's actually, that is rare. Hopefully not. That is, but maybe divorced. That is rare. I just like that. We talk about the strategies. I think some people just assume I'm just gonna flip on my social security. When I retire. They think it's the same event you retire and you turn on social security, but that's not the case. You can take an active planning role in your social security and really maximize those benefits. The vocabulary. There is part of the confusion because social security, the administration, social security administration says. Are you going to retire and in their mind that means are you going to take social security? Whereas for most people, the word retirement is associated with I'm no longer working. It even gets more confusing when someone transitions to a part-time job. And they're like, oh yeah, I

[00:14:00] retired. And they're still working and they're not taking social security but that word can mean a lot of things. So just as you work through this, be careful with that word in particular when you're working with this social security administration. Yeah. Because Laura, to your point, we see retirees all the time. That will. Step away from work and retire. Right. But then hold off and delay a social security benefit as part of a strategy that we've built out for them. But Zacc, to your point, you know, you mentioned the importance of starting with social security in our office. When we have a retiree walk in, that's always the first place that we start. Let's figure that out first. Let's build everything else around it. And on top of it, even before we make a decision on a pension, we've gotta figure out social security. That really is the foundational piece of any retirees plan. Figure that out, get that right. And then that answers the question a lot of times on, well, how should we be taking a pension filing for that? And how should we be investing in managing the 401ks and IRAs, and then taking distributions from those and taxes. Right. We didn't even talk about taxes, but. It plays into your taxes. Absolutely. And to further

[00:15:00] Tyler's point a little bit here, keep in mind that social security is the first calculation. Even for fairly high net worth individuals, like someone who has a couple million dollars in assets, it still makes sense to start with social security. There have been a few minor exceptions where, where I've worked with someone with, if they have 20, 30, 40, and 50 million, social security is a pretty minuscule part of their plan, but that's, that's a rare, rare occurrence. Right? So generally start with social security. Let's give them a few main definitions so that as you proceed into the next episodes with us, that you'll understand. So PIA, this is so weird. I hate that they use the word insurance here. I don't know how they came up with this, but it really is confusing. PIA stands for primary insurance amount and really what that is is it's your full social security benefit. The full amount you're entitled to at your full retirement age, full retirement

[00:16:00] age is ranged between 66 and 67. Depending on what year you were born. If you're born after 1960, your full retirement age is 67. Prior to that. It's 66 and maybe a few months, but your PIA is the benefit you're entitled to based on your work history at that age, I think. Word insured comes from being fully insured in social security. Like when you read some of the documentation, they use a fully insured worker which means that they fully qualify, but it's weird to me. I'm sure it comes from some piece of legislation that was signed originally. I think they use that term originally thinking like we're going to ensure for our, you know, retirees. So PIA primary insured amount. FRA Tyler alluded to this already. That's full retirement age. So your Pia is the full benefit you get at your full retirement age. Yeah. And like I mentioned, that ranges between 66 and 67, depending on the year you're born, we

[00:17:00] suppose, or anticipate that they will most likely continue to push those full retirement ages out. As people continue to age. For example, you know, if you're listening to this podcast and you have parents that were born in the fifties, maybe that's when my mom was born. So that's, that's the example that I'm using, but their parents. So our grandparents. Their full retirement age was 65. It actually coincided with Medicare. Right? Medicare full retirement age was 65. And so they had, they paired social security and Medicare together. But now for our parents, It was 66. And then for us it's gonna be 67 or later. So we anticipate they'll continue to push that forward. But the ages that you can file range between 62 would be on the early end. If you are a survivor, meaning you're a widow or widower, you can actually file as early as 60. If you're disabled, you can file prior to that. But the ranges would be 62 up to 70, somewhere in that range with your full retirement, average being 66 to 67. Talking about that. I feel like it's helpful to know. [00:17:56] 60 could potentially be the earliest you could file. So

[00:18:00] if you're coming near those ages, it's a good idea to take a good look at these things. You know, even if you're not. Planning on retiring until later 67. There are some people who will file for social security before they have retired. It makes most sense for their plan. So if you're getting close to these ages, I would say, take a look at it and see what you're eligible for. Do we see this all the time where someone will walk in like six months before they retire and they think, well, I didn't think I needed to really look at it or plan in advance. To your point, Laura, like you need to be in here if you're in your late fifties, early sixties, and you're thinking, oh, I've got a decade before I retire. No, you need to meet with a financial advisor now because there's a lot that can change and we can adjust and we can right the ship if you're not on track. And a lot of that has to do with social security. Right. Okay. Next one is FICA, my wife early on in her working career at science bank. She was like, who is FICA and why are they taking all my money? FICA is a federal insurance contribution act. So federal insurance is the concept of having Medicare and social security

[00:19:00] available for in retirement. So you are making a contribution. It is the only legalized Ponzi scheme that I think exists. right. I hope I don't get in trouble for saying that, but it's, you can basically, they're taking money from the current workers and giving it out to the current retirees. [00:19:16] You are not putting money into a pot from which you will withdraw in the future. It's just in and out. This is a little bit off topic, but when I was a kid, I thought the bank, you know, had your own account for you. And you take your money to the bank and they put it in your name and your account. And then, you came back to the safety deposit box, like a safety deposit box. [00:19:35] So I had a coin collection. I was collecting all the 50 states. Oh, no quarters. And I thought, well, great. I'm gonna put this in the bank. It's gonna be extra safe there. So I tell my mom, I wanna put this in the bank. She didn't realize it was my collection. I was gonna say, where were your parents? Yeah, no, she didn't realize I was like, these are all my quarters. [00:19:50] Keep it in the bank, keep it safe for me. And later I found out that. Those quarters were distributed and probably exchanged with everybody else thousands of times

[00:20:00] before. Oh, no, I'm sorry, Laura, you didn't have any quarters from the 18 hundreds, did you? No, I don't think so. So, okay. FICA we're gonna go through that in episode two and really talk about strategies around FICA in particular. Okay. The question we get frequently about social security is will social security be there for me. And I feel like most people's opinion is no, that they won't have social security. However, everyone who's ever said that so far, Has gotten social security. I mean, people have been saying that for decades. It won't be there for me. It won't be there for me. Tyler shed some light on this concept and your opinions and I'll weigh in. Yeah. So I love to ask this question when I present, cause it's typically to a group of 60 year olds and I just, I'm curious to know like, Hey, when you were my age and I'm today sitting here I'm 39. [00:20:48] So I always ask when you were my age, did you think it was going to be there for you? And the typical response is no. There was not a chance it was gonna be here. And it's like, well, you're sitting in this room now learning about social security and it is here for you. Right?

[00:21:00] And so I think a lot of times we think that no, it's not, it's, it's running out of money. And that's what the news likes to tell us is it's running outta money and here's the reality. So currently, well, this is as of 2020, I don't have updated numbers for 20, 22 or end of 2021. But as of December, 2020, there was $2.9 trillion. In the trust fund. And as of 2020, there was a net increase. So more went in, in FICA payments than came out in benefit payments to the tune of 11 billion. So trending in the right direction. Right. We have more going in than is coming out. That's a good thing. The problem that we're running into is. The baby boomer generation is retiring at such a fast pace. There are 10,000 plus workers, every single day across America that are retiring, leaving the workforce. And when we leave the workforce, what do we stop doing? Paying FICA taxes. Yeah, that's gone. You'll continue to pay federal and state tax, but you're no longer paying FICA taxes. And so we don't have enough coming into the workforce. I always joke that we can't get these millennials to work. Right. Mm-hmm to replace, are you two Al.

[00:22:00] Yes. That's why I can make the jokes. Okay. Okay. So we don't have enough millennials coming in and replacing these baby boomers. And so we're starting to see those, see that trend down where more is gonna come out in the future than is gonna go in. And so right now, what they're stating, and if you look at your look at one of your social security statements, it actually says this, it says in the year 2034, I think it is projected that if they make no changes, they'll have to reduce future benefits. By about 30%. So 70% of benefits would be payable moving forward. And I think a lot of people think, well, in 2034, it's gone. Like there's nothing left to be paid. No, that's not what they're saying. They're saying that only 70% of the current benefits would be payable to those future retirees. Now. There's lots of different reform proposals, things that they've talked about that will shore up the system or make it, you know, enhance the system, make it even better. So there's lots of things on the table. Congress is the governing body of social security. They're the ones that are making these decisions. There's some really great proposals on the table today that I think will shore

[00:23:00] it up. Congress and your, you know, your politicians do not want to see this benefit go away because that would be suicide for them. [00:23:08] Right? If they were proponents of getting rid of it or not letting it continue, that would be political suicide for them. And so there's, there's a lot in it for them. There's a lot in the balance in terms of their success as a politician. Do you want me to go deep into some of those or I think that's, I. [00:23:23] You know what is interesting. Let me give you a thought here first though. It is interesting. If you said, well, let's run the math, our calculators. If we built in a 30% decline, we would be recommending to everyone to take it as early as possible. Take it at 62. Yeah, you would take it almost every time. Every benefit possible as early as possible, but we're not. [00:23:45] So we're not recommending that. So yeah. I mean, it would be maybe nice to name a few reasons why. Yeah. I just wanted to give that context because we don't always, now many advisors always recommend that you wait as long as possible. That's not us either. We're gonna get to this later. So

[00:24:00] I'm not gonna spoil it too much. Cause we need all the context around the strategies to, to get to the breakeven strategies. But Tyler, like what are some solutions that we believe are possible and probably like. So one of the things that they've always done and they'll continue to do is raising the amount of income that's taxable. So if you're a W2 employee, you pay FICA tax and specifically just the social security side of FICA tax on your first 147,000 of income. So let's say you're making 200,000 as a W2 employee. You only pay. Social security tax on 147,000 of that. The other 60, $50,000 is not Federal tax. Okay. Now that automatically goes up every year. Last year was like 142,000. So they're automatically increasing that, which is helping create more income into that trust fund. The other thing that they've talked about, and they've talked about ratcheting that up quicker, right? I think I saw one recommendation was ratchet that up to the first 400,000. So you would pay FICA taxes or social security tax on your

[00:25:00] first 400,000 of income. And that would phase out for a time or something. Biden had a proposal at one point where it would stop where they currently stop it. And there would be this gap where you didn't have to pay it. And then they would reinstate it at 400, at 400 and above that was it. So I think that was the one that would've, and, and, you know, with, with his plan was in particular, he had pegged that mark at 400 and above to say, these people need to pay more. And so that was the idea. I don't remember. Ever seeing anything that said it would stop again. Above 400. If that went through, that would solve. That's a lot of money that is a lot of money for someone making. There are a lot of people out there making millions of dollars every single year paying another 12.4% tax on that. All of those millions that would, that would make a big difference quick. And I think when they ran the numbers, don't quote me on this, but I, I think that would shore it up to 2100. So instead of, instead of the year, 2100, yeah. Sorry. The year 2100, just by that slight tweak, that would shore up those benefits until the year 2100 to keep them a

[00:26:00] hundred percent payable. So that's one thing. The other thing is they've talked about, we mentioned this before, but pushing out full retirement age. Beyond age 67. So the reality for us sitting in this room now, Laura, you're a lot younger than us, but for Zacc and I, I mean, when we get to retirement, really our full retirement age could be age 70 before we're entitled to our full retirement benefit. And if we file earlier than that, we get a reduction. That's another thing they've talked about, changing how the cost of living adjustments are calculated. You might talk about this in one of your future episodes, but every year your benefit has the potential to go up with inflation. And right now it's pegged to the CPI chain index. And they're talking about maybe changing that to a different index, which would actually lower. The future potential of cost of living adjustments. So there's all these things. Bottom line is here at Capita. We feel really confident that it's gonna be here right. Fully funded until about 2034. I think we'll be in that group when we get to retirement thinking, we didn't think it was gonna be there. And here we are. And here it is maybe with some slight tweaks, right. It's probably not gonna look the same as it looks for our parents

[00:27:00] today, but I think it will be there in some form or fashion. Yeah, I agree. I think this is my own personal opinion. According to Zacc, he takes this lightly, right? But my opinion is they will mean a test as well. So they already do this. If you're working, they may take a portion of your social security benefit back. If you are younger than full retirement age, I think someday they may actually income test social security all throughout retirement and say, Hey, if you make over $200,000 a year, You start to have your social security phased out until you show up to $300,000 a year and then you lose it all. Like, I mean, those are, those are possibilities, but the reality is very few people in retirement show that much income, even really, really wealthy people, oftentimes show between a hundred and $200,000 of income. So I don't know, these are all things that could, that could help it. I think that, like Tyler said, there's too much political risk. In getting rid of it, they'll just modify it and, and try to do as little damage as possible to a smallest group as possible. Right. Sounds like Tyler's telling me I'm gonna have to wait till

[00:28:00] 80. yes. It's gonna be 80 for you last, probably. Right. So she, for being young, is all right. I think we, I think we call it good there. So let's just go through and stick around next time. We're gonna talk about how your benefit is calculated. If you are younger, this episode is absolutely going to be helpful for you to understand how your paycheck is flowing and what strategies you may have. Self-employed person. And then if you are nearing social security, This will help you understand the math behind how they actually get to your monthly benefit number. So that will help you understand if you're at the tail end of your retirement, and maybe you have four or five years left, depending on how much you've worked. There may be this opportunity to really boost up your social security benefit with two or three years of work. So we'll show you all of that, or at least we'll tell you all of that. I think we'll be able to. Audio only Tyler. You've got this stuff down. Thanks for joining us. Thanks for having me. This podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a

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