American Association of Retired Persons

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps
 
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The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization

dedicated to helping older Americans achieve lives of independence, dignity, and purpose. The AARP, which was founded in 1958 by Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, is the oldest and largest organization of older Americans, with a membership of more than 33 million. The National Retired Teachers Association (NTRA), which was founded in 1947, is a division of AARP. Membership in AARP is open to anyone age 50 or older, working or retired. More than one-third of the association's membership is in the workforce. The AARP's headquarters are in Washington, D.C. By the early 2000s, AARP had fulfilled its goal of having staffed offices in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. AARP utilizes an extensive network of local AARP chapters, its National Community Service Programs and NTRA members to involve members, volunteers, the media, community partners, and policy-makers in carrying out its objectives. The organization is led by a 21-member board of directors and has an administrative staff that carries out the group's day-to-day activities. The organization is funded almost entirely by annual membership dues.

The AARP has been an effective advocate regarding issues involving older persons, in part because of its large membership and its ability to mobilize its members to lobby for its positions before Congress and government agencies. The organization has concentrated much of its LOBBYING effort on SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICARE, and long-term care issues. The AARP has fought zealously to protect the Social Security benefits of retired citizens and has resisted efforts by Congress to change the system itself. Its Advocacy Center for Social Security develops policy proposals and lobbies Congress.

The AARP Advocacy Center for Medicare seeks to ensure the availability of affordable, quality HEALTH CARE for older individuals and persons with disabilities. In the early 2000s it was working to develop ways of maintaining the short-term solvency of the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund and was preparing for the needs of the baby boomers in the longer term. With the dramatic growth in managed health care plans, the AARP has sought to educate its members about this new way of providing services and to empower older people by telling them what their rights are under this system.

The association also has been actively involved in voter education. A major,...

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