From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Formation1958; 65 years ago (1958)
FounderEthel Percy Andrus
Leonard Davis
Type501(c)(4) non-profit organization[1]
Headquarters601 E Street, NW, Washington, D.C., U.S.
Jo Ann Jenkins
Board Chair
Lloyd E. Johnson
SubsidiariesAARP Foundation
AARP Services Inc
Legal Counsel for the Elderly
OATS/Senior Planet
Wish of a Lifetime
Formerly called
American Association of Retired Persons
AARP's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

AARP (formerly called the American Association of Retired Persons) is an interest group in the United States focusing on issues affecting those over the age of fifty.[3] The organization said it had more than 38 million members in 2018.[4] The magazine and bulletin it sends to its members are the two largest-circulation publications in the United States.

AARP was formed in 1958 by Ethel Percy Andrus, a retired educator from California, and Leonard Davis, who later founded the Colonial Penn Group of insurance companies.[5][6] It is an influential lobbying group in the United States.[7][8] AARP sells paid memberships, and markets insurance[9] and other services to its members.


Founding, Origins, and Early Years[edit]

AARP was founded in 1958 by Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, a retired public school teacher and principal in California. The seeds of what would become AARP were planted a decade earlier when Dr. Andrus began advocating for health insurance coverage for retired teachers.[10]

Volunteering with the California Retired Teachers Association (CRTA), Dr. Andrus sought out former teachers who were struggling on their $40/month state pensions.[10][11] Her goal was to get them out of poverty and access to affordable health insurance.[12]

In 1944, Dr. Andrus checked on a former Spanish teacher who was ill and found her living in a chicken coop. Like many other retirees at the time, her pension was not enough to afford adequate housing or healthcare.[12][11][13] Before Medicare was enacted in 1965, no national program existed in the United States to provide health insurance to people aged 65 and older. At the same time, many states enforced mandatory retirement, forcing people to leave their jobs and forfeit health coverage.[10] The poverty rate for Americans 65 and older was 35 percent higher than any other age group. Shocked by what she saw, Dr. Andrus helped the teacher get the care she needed and began searching for ways to improve the health and financial security of older adults.[12][11]

In 1947, Dr. Andrus formed the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA) to use the collective power of retired teachers to secure affordable group health coverage. She met with 42 private insurance companies who deemed adults over 65 to be “uninsurable” and was rejected each time.[14] The policy that Dr. Andrus had in mind was one that covered individuals aged 65 and older, with no exclusions for pre-existing health conditions. Leonard Davis, an insurance broker from New York, offered to work with Dr. Andrus to develop a pilot program for New York retired teachers.[12][14] The experiment was a financial success, and he and Dr. Andrus teamed up to establish a national version – the NRTA Health Plan insured by Continental Casualty Co. in 1955.[12] It featured articles that challenged stereotypes of older adults, presenting aging as an opportunity and older people as a valuable resource. In the inaugural issue, Dr. Andrus wrote, “Aging is not just a problem; it represents a real and thrilling challenge. It is one thing to recognize that older people represent the nation's greatest single human resource available and it is quite another to do something about it.”Membership in the newly formed AARP reached 130,000 in its first year.[12][15]

1950s and 60s: organizational growth and membership expansion[edit]

The NRTA/AARP insurance model was the first in the United States, opening up a new insurance market for older Americans. Soon, AARP expanded beyond health insurance and began developing other benefits, programs, and services for its members, each tailored to the needs of people aged 55 and older and filling a gap in the marketplace.[12] For example, she created one of the first modern retirement homes, Grey Gables, in Ojai, California, in 1954, designed to keep older residents healthy, active, and socially engaged.[12][16]

Word about the NRTA Health Plan spread, and thousands of retired non-educators who also faced challenges finding health coverage contacted the NRTA about joining.[17] In 1958, Dr. Andrus created the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) as a sister organization to NRTA. Through membership in AARP, the general population age 55 and older gained access to the insurance benefits previously limited to former teachers.[12][18][15]

In 1958, AARP began publishing its magazine called Modern Maturity to spread the word about the association, keep members informed of its activities, and publicize issues affecting older adults.[19][12]

National concern about pharmaceutical industry practices at this time prompted U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver (D-Tenn), who chaired the Senate Judiciary Antitrust and Monopoly Subcommittee, to lead a congressional investigation into prescription drug prices, which lasted from 1959 to 1962.[20][21] Dr. Andrus testified four times during the investigation, and NRTA/AARP legislative director Ernest Gidding testified once.[21]

In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation creating the first White House Conference on Aging.[22] He named Dr. Andrus to the National Advisory Committee for the first conference, held in 1961.[23] More than 2,500 delegates met in Washington, D.C. over four days to address challenges facing older adults such as poverty, housing, and healthcare, and develop policy recommendations for the administration.[24] White House conferences on aging have been held every decade since the first and are credited with making contributions to U.S. aging policy, including laying the groundwork for Medicare.[25]

At the first conference, AARP spotlighted a potential solution to the growing issue of older adults with mobility problems living independently. It constructed the House of Freedom in downtown Washington, D.C., the nation's first universal design home easily accessible by older adults and people with disabilities. It was built by AARP and the Douglas Fir Plywood Association and signaled the beginning of AARP's work to help older Americans remain independent in their own homes and neighborhoods for as long as they wanted.[26][27][28]

By 1962, the combined membership of AARP and NRTA had grown to 400,000, making it one of the largest membership organizations in the United States.[12]

In 1963, Leonard Davis bought out Continental Casualty's AARP/NRTA insurance policies and formed Colonial Penn, his own company, which became the sole provider of insurance to AARP/NRTA.[12]

In 1964, AARP/NRTA had a large pavilion at the New York World's Fair.[29]

In 1965, backed by AARP advocacy on Capitol Hill and the support of its members around the country, President Johnson signed both the Older Americans Act and the amendments to Social Security that created Medicare. AARP staff testified before congressional committees.[30][31] The final congressional vote on the package of amendments was one vote shy of unanimous: 395 to 1 in the House and was unanimous in the Senate.[32]

AARP also advocated for The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975.[12]

In 1968, AARP launched Tax-Aide, which matched low and moderate-income people with trained volunteers who provided free tax preparation and filing services.[12]

As AARP grew, it expanded the range of benefits offered to its members. It established a travel service that took members on modestly priced domestic and international trips, created a retired senior volunteer program, and offered a range of discounts.[12]

Increasingly, AARP's members were asking the organization to take on age discrimination in the marketplace. Hundreds of members wrote to AARP in the early years, explaining that auto insurers and rental companies were charging punishing rates for older drivers, classifying them as high risk and reckless just because of their age. AARP challenged the insurers and rental companies with research that demonstrated drivers over the age of 65 were among the safest.[33]

In 1979, the organization began offering a driver safety course for any licensed driver, taught by volunteers.[34] In 2016, the AARP Driver Safety Program taught 360,000 older drivers in classrooms and another 130,000 through its online course. Some who take the training receive discounts on their insurance premiums.[35] In 1984, AARP licensed its brand name to affordable auto insurance that members could purchase and could not be canceled solely because of age.[36]

In 1973, AARP created a charitable affiliate, the AARP Andrus Foundation, to award research grants in gerontology.[37]

1970s – 90s: Growth, continued[edit]

Dr. Andrus continued to run AARP until 1967, when she died of a heart attack at age 82.[17] Today, the NRTA is a division within AARP.[38] She wrote her final column for Modern Maturity four days before she passed away.[17]

In 1975, AARP had over 7 million members, making it one of the largest membership organizations in the country.[12] In 1977, it enrolled its ten millionth member.[39] By the end of the 1980s, membership nearly tripled to 33 million and AARP mailings were so large that the organization had its own zip code.[12][40] It had tens of thousands of volunteers, the highest circulation magazine in the nation, and rising national awareness.[40][12] In 1997, it topped Fortune's first annual list of the most powerful lobbying organizations.[12]

In 1996, 78 million baby boomers began turning 50, contributing to AARP's growth.[12] In 1984, AARP reduced its membership age from 55 to 50. It began sending “birthday” cards and membership invitations to Americans who were approaching their 50th birthday.[41]

During this phase of rapid growth for AARP, competing insurance providers entered the marketplace, selling plans tailored to retired Americans.[42][12] With more competition, the quality of Colonial Penn's offerings and the nature of AARP's relationship with Colonial Penn came into question.[12]

In 1982, NRTA formally merged with AARP. In 1988, it formed a career planning workshop for older Americans who were unemployed and introduced a series of AARP mutual funds in 1997.[43][44]

By the mid-nineties, telemarketing fraud had become pervasive and cost consumers more than $40 billion a year. A 1995 AARP survey found that more than half of all victims were aged 50 or older, a group that comprised less than one-third of the U.S. population.[45] In 1995, working with the National Association of Attorneys General and the FBI, AARP helped expose a series of boiler room operations targeting thousands of potential phone fraud victims across the country. Acting as victims, AARP members volunteered to collect evidence for the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Operation Senior Sentinel targeting illegal telemarketers.[46]

The Modern Era – 1998 to the present[edit]

In 1999, the organization changed its name from American Association of Retired Persons to AARP, dropping the word “retirement.” At the time, a third of AARP's members were still in the workforce.[47] AARP no longer requires that members be retired, and there are no longer any age restrictions even for full membership.[48]

Recognizing the changing circumstances of its membership, AARP began offering more work-related tools and resources and ramped up its advocacy against age discrimination in the workplace.[49] In 2017, the organization created an online jobs board to connect job seekers over 50 with employers. AARP also created an employer pledge program, where more than 1,000 employers—including Google and CVS—promised to adhere to a set of age-friendly hiring and employment practices.[49]

Age discrimination[edit]

Beginning in 2009, AARP backed the “Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act” (POWADA), which aims to restore fairness for workers aged 40 and over by treating age discrimination as seriously as other forms of workplace discrimination.[50][51] As of 2020, POWADA has been passed by the House of Representatives and is with the Senate.[52]

In 2018, AARP Foundation lawyers represented two Ohio State employees who were forced out of their jobs because of their age. This action resulted in a settlement which helped the employees regain their positions, receive back pay, and required the university to hold training sessions with its staff on preventing age bias.[53]

AARP has advocated for the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) since its passage in 1967, which protects workers at or over the age of 40 from bias in the workplace.[53][54]

Economic security[edit]

Facing growing pension obligations and high annual health cost increases, American businesses in the 2000s began scaling back their retirement and health benefits to employees. While 35 percent of private-sector workers had a defined benefit pension in the 1990s, only 18 percent did in 2013.[55][56] Beginning in 2004, AARP opposed attempts to undermine the guaranteed nature of the Social Security program through privatization or diverting Social Security payroll taxes to private accounts.[57]

AARP's research indicates that  nearly half (57 million) of American workers have no access to a retirement savings plan through their employers.[58] Through its state offices, the organization began advocating individual states to enact work and save programs, which made it easier for businesses to create a private retirement savings account for employees.[59][60] As of 2020, eighteen  states had signed Work and Save programs into law.[61]

Health care[edit]

Continuing a theme that began at its founding, AARP during this period used its lobbying efforts to advocate against reductions in Medicare benefits and to protect the federal program that offered health coverage to older Americans.[62]

In 2003, AARP supported legislation proposed by Republican President George W. Bush that included partial coverage for prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries, among other things.[63][64] Democratic congressional leaders, seeking a more generous benefit, strongly opposed the bill and prompted thousands of AARP members to quit in protest.[65][66] Six years later, in 2009, AARP endorsed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) proposed by Democratic President Barack Obama, which protected those with pre-existing health conditions, limited the amount that insurance companies could charge because of age, provided tax credits, and improved drug coverage in Medicare.[67] At that time,  more than 50 million Americans were without health insurance coverage at some point during the year.[68] The ACA, which passed a year later, was opposed by Republicans and AARP's support prompted thousands of members to leave the organization.[69]

In 2019, with the price of prescription drugs far outpacing inflation, AARP began lobbying for legislative and industry changes that would lower the price of prescription medications.[70] AARP supported a bipartisan bill by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) that set caps on drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries and increased pressure on drug companies to lower prices.[71]

That year, AARP also supported the Trump administration's goal of allowing Americans to import lower-cost drugs from other countries and in 2021, the organization backed a House Democratic bill that, among other things, would allow Medicare to use its bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices with manufacturers.[72] AARP backed legislation proposed by President Biden and passed by Congress in 2022 that would enable Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices, set caps on out-of-pocket drug spending by those on Medicare and capped the price for insulin at $35.[73]

Brain health[edit]

In 2016, the organization created Staying Sharp, a program which allowed people to evaluate their brain health through a scientifically based assessment and receive tips for slowing cognitive decline.[74] In 2018, AARP invested $60 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund, which supports research into diagnosis, treatments, and cures for dementia.[75]


AARP is a nonpartisan 501(c)(4) nonprofit that advocates for older Americans on a number of federal health and fiscal issues such as Medicare and Social Security.[76][77][78][79][80][81] It fights age discrimination in the workforce,[82][80][81][83] lobbies for lower prescription drug prices,[84][85][86] and educates seniors about consumer fraud through the AARP Fraud Watch Network.[77][87]

AARP also advocates at the state and local level for better community healthcare services and lower utility rates. It has millions of volunteer activists and offices in every state, along with Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.[41][88]

Through its affiliated organizations such as AARP Foundation, AARP helps seniors with legal assistance, tax preparation, job training  and personal finance.[81][77][41][89][90][91][92][93][94]

Members receive AARP the Magazine and the AARP Bulletin, the top-circulating consumer publications in the country, along with special offers and discounts related to travel, restaurants, prescriptions, and more. A full AARP membership is available to those 50 and older; however, those under the age of 50 can also join.[95][96]

AARP volunteers packing food for older Americans in need at a packing event in Miami.
AARP volunteers packing food for older Americans in need at a packing event in Miami

AARP licenses its brand to certain products, including Medicare insurance with UnitedHealthcare.[97] The organization is overseen by a volunteer board of directors.[88]


Health care[edit]

AARP has been active in healthcare policy debates since the 1960s.[98] Its focus areas have included Medicare, affordable health insurance, and lower prescription drug costs and its recent engagement is a reflection of this long-standing involvement.[99]


AARP testified before Congress in support of the Older Americans Act[100] and the amendments to Social Security[101] that created the Medicare Program, which President Johnson enacted into law in 1965.[27]

AARP's public stances influenced the United States Congress' passage of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, which created Medicare Part D, in 2003, and also influenced Congress by resisting changes to Social Security in 2005.[102][103] President George W. Bush called the Medicare legislation “the greatest advance in health care coverage for America's seniors since the founding of Medicare.” [104] In 2007, AARP launched the “Divided We Fail” campaign with the Business Roundtable, the National Federation of Independent Business and the Service Employees International Union. The campaign urged presidential candidates in both major parties to commit to making health insurance coverage more affordable and to strengthen Social Security.[105][106]

Lower prescription drug costs[edit]

By 2009, more than 50 million Americans were without health insurance coverage at some point during the year.[107] AARP backed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) proposed by President Obama.[108] In early 2017, AARP strongly opposed the American Health Care Act of 2017, saying that older Americans would be unfairly burdened with higher premiums and smaller tax credits.[109] In 2017, AARP successfully opposed legislative efforts to repeal the ACA.[110][111][112]

From 2018 to 2019, AARP helped pass more than 35 laws aimed at lowering drug prices at the local level.[113]

In 2019, AARP mounted a multi-million dollar campaign against the pharmaceutical industry and its high drug prices called “Stop Rx Greed” [114] and supported a bipartisan bill by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) that set caps on drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries and increased pressure on drug companies to lower prices.[115] In 2021, AARP launched the “Fair Rx Prices Now!” Campaign to support legislation that would enable the Medicare Program to negotiate prices with drug companies as a means of lowering prices for consumers, limit price increases for certain drugs and cap out-of-pocket spending by Medicare beneficiaries.[116]

As early as 1959, AARP began advocating for lower prescription drug costs to ease the burden on older consumers.[117] Founder Ethel Percy Andrus testified during the 1962 Senate hearings on pharmaceutical industry pricing practices. “Our concern is relief from suffering and improvement of health. We feel that 15 to 20 percent profit earned by several large manufacturers is detrimental to this concern,” Andrus told the committee in 1962.[118] AARP regularly publishes Rx Price Watch Reports noting pricing trends in popular drugs for seniors.[119]

AARP pushed Congress to include drug pricing reform in the proposed Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, ran ads countering drug industry claims and mobilized its 38 million members to lobby their representatives to pass the bill. The Act was signed into law in August 2022.[120][121][122] The Inflation Reduction Act requires HHS, for the first time, to negotiate prices with drug makers for many of the most expensive drugs covered under Medicare. It also penalizes drug companies that raise prices more than the rate of inflation and sets a cap of $2,000 on annual out-of-pocket drug spending for Medicare's more than 63 million beneficiaries beginning in 2025.[123][124] These provisions in the act could be life-changing for older Americans who rely on high-priced prescription drugs, saving some thousands of dollars a year.[125][126]

In a 2014 study conducted by AARP, 93% of people identified maintaining brain health as a high priority as they age.[127] AARP created a brain health assessment and program called Staying Sharp [128] and it formed the Global Council on Brain Health – an independent, international group of brain health experts and researchers that publishes findings such as the impact of music on brain health.[129][130] In 2018, AARP donated $60 million to the Dementia Discovery Fund for research into the causes and treatments of Alzheimer's Disease.[75][131]

Health insurance[edit]

Approximately seven million people have AARP-branded health insurance, including drug coverage and Medigap, as of April 2007[needs update][132] and the association earns more income from selling insurance to members than from membership dues.[133] In 2008, AARP began offering new health insurance products: an HMO for Medicare recipients, in partnership with UnitedHealth Group; and a PPO and "a high-deductible insurance policy that could be used with a health savings account" to people aged 50–64, in partnership with Aetna.

While AARP is not an insurer, it allows its name to be used by insurance companies in the sale of products, for which it is paid a commission.[134]

In a November 2008 editorial, The Des Moines Register and the Canada Free Press called AARP a lobbying group masquerading as a non-profit, meanwhile charging high membership fees and selling expensive private health care plans.[135]

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said in 2008 that the "limited benefit" insurance plans offered by AARP through UnitedHealth provided inadequate coverage and were marketed deceptively. One plan offered $5,000 for surgery that may cost two or three times that amount.[136]

AARP markets self-branded Medigap policies. As of October 2009, Medical care reform contained a proposal to trim an associated program Medicare Advantage, which was expected to increase demand for Medigap policies.[137] However, as cited above, AARP also brands a Medicare Advantage plan (MedicareComplete), and would also be subject to cuts under health care reform.[138] According to an Annenberg Public Policy Center report, critics have said AARP had a conflict of interest in supporting the Act, because it "derives income from the sale of health and life insurance policies", by licensing its brand to insurance dealers such as New York Life,[139] and would benefit financially from passage of the legislation.[140][141]

In 2004, BusinessWeek said questions have arisen in the past about whether AARP's commercial interests may conflict with those of its membership, and characterizes many of the funds and insurance policies that AARP markets as providing considerably less benefit than seniors could get on their own.[142]


Single-payer advocates have criticized AARP for not supporting the single-payer or public option during the health care debate.[143] Single-payer advocates supported H.R. 676, proposed by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). AARP released a statement explaining to its members why the organization was not supporting H.R. 676:

Starting over with a new, "single-payer" program will not eliminate the problems Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP currently face, such as the spiraling costs of procedures and prescription medications, as well as technological advances that are often not comprehensively tested to be proven safe or effective before marketing. H.R. 676 does not address the problem of increasing healthcare costs. Rather, it allows costs to continue to grow, which will result in unaffordable coverage.

John Rother, AARP's former chief lobbyist, said the single-payer model would "disrupt the system that is currently in place" and "require a very significant tax increase". But Rother admitted that it would be possible to design a system that would avoid these problems. Since AARP's priorities now are to protect the current programs and implement the Affordable Care Act, Rother said that any effort to promote single-payer would be undercutting health reform. Rother said: "To go to a single-payer, you do have to trust government. The climate we're in right now is a very hostile climate for something like that."[143]

Rother also thought that an educational effort on the benefits of single-payer would undercut the ACA. AARP has not published any material relating to single-payer health insurance on its website, in its several hundred-page policy book, or through its Public Policy Institute.[143]

Approximately 60,000 AARP members quit AARP between July 1 and August 18, 2009, in a controversy that arose over AARP's support for U.S. health care reform. FOX News stated: "The Atlanta-based American Seniors Association, which is opposed to President Obama's health care plan, is trying to capitalize on growing public dissatisfaction with the AARP." AARP spokesman Drew Nannis responded that AARP loses about 300,000 members a month on average, and the controversial 60,000 of those that had left had specified leaving over the health care debate. Nannis also stated that the AARP gained 400,000 members and that 1.5 million members renewed their memberships within the same period of time.[144] The American Seniors Association is a for-profit organization operated by the American Seniors Association Holding Group, Inc (ASAHG, Inc).[145][146]

Social Security[edit]

Since March 2012, AARP's "You've Earned a Say" campaign has sought to foster nonpartisan conversations about how to strengthen Social Security and Medicare. The Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch reported: "AARP took the debate about Medicare and Social Security from what it called behind closed doors in Washington to a series of town hall meetings around the country to make sure retirees have a voice in the discussion."[147]

In June 2011, AARP dropped its long-standing opposition to cutting Social Security benefits. A news release[148] emphasized that "AARP has not changed its position on Social Security". In 2005, AARP led the effort to kill President George W. Bush's plan for partial privatization. AARP now has concluded that change is inevitable, and it wants to be at the table to try to minimize the pain. John Rother, AARP's policy chief and a prime mover for the new position, said: "The ship was sailing. I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens." AARP declined to join a coalition of about 300 unions, women's groups, and liberal advocacy organizations created to fight Social Security benefit cuts. Rother said, "The coalition's role was to kind of anchor the left, and our role is going to be to actually get something done".[149]

Age discrimination[edit]

AARP advocated for the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967[54] and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975. In 2009, AARP backed the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA),[150] which aims to restore fairness for workers 40 and older by treating age discrimination as seriously as other forms of workplace discrimination.[51]


AARP has several affiliated organizations, including:

  • AARP Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity that helps people over age 50 who are at social and economic risk; it includes:
    • AARP Experience Corps, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity that encourages people over age 50 to mentor and tutor school children;
    • AARP Institute, a non-profit charity that holds some of AARP's charitable gift annuity funds;
  • AARP Services, Inc., a for-profit corporation that provides quality control and research,
  • Legal Counsel for the Elderly, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity that provides legal assistance to seniors in Washington, D.C.[151][152]
  • AARP Financial Services Corporation, a for-profit corporation that holds AARP's real estate;
  • AARP Insurance Plan, an organization that holds some of AARP's group health insurance policies;

Because of AARP's sizable membership, it is able to generate its own income without being dependent on government grants or private donors, though it receives help from both of these for specific programs. According to its 2018 Consolidated Financial Statement, the largest sources of income were:

  • royalties for the rights to use AARP's intellectual property (name, logo, etc.) paid by commercial providers of products, services and discounts for AARP members $908,960,000;
  • membership dues $301,017,000;
  • advertisements placed in its publications $147,687,000; and
  • total operating revenue $1,648,795,000 [153]

AARP Services, Inc. and AARP Financial Incorporated[edit]

AARP Services, Inc., founded in 1999, is a wholly-owned taxable subsidiary of AARP that manages the range of products and services offered as benefits to members. Its offers include Medicare supplemental insurance; member discounts on rental cars, cruises, vacation packages, and lodging; special offers on technology and gifts; pharmacy services; legal services; and long-term care insurance. AARP Services founded AARP Financial Incorporated, a subsidiary that manages AARP-endorsed financial products including AARP Funds. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in June 2010, AARP Financial announced the discontinuation of AARP Funds.[154] AARP Services develops new products, manages and markets products and services, and creates and maintains partnership and sponsorship relationships.

AARP Foundation[edit]

AARP Foundation[155] is AARP's affiliated charity. Foundation programs provide security, protection, and empowerment for older persons in need. Low-income older workers receive the job training and placement they need to rejoin the workforce. Free tax preparation is provided for low- and moderate-income individuals, with special attention to those 60 and older. The Foundation's litigation staff protects the legal rights of older Americans in critical health, long-term care, consumer, and employment situations. Additional programs provide information, education, and services to ensure that people over 50 lead lives of independence, dignity, and purpose. Foundation programs are funded by grants, tax-deductible contributions, and AARP.

The AARP Foundation's website claims the non-profit "wants to win back opportunity for those now in crisis, so thousands of vulnerable low-income Americans 50+ can regain their foothold, continue to serve as anchors for their families and communities, and ensure that their best life is still within reach". Key areas of focus are hunger, income, housing, and isolation. The Foundation's vision is "a country that is free of poverty where no older person feels vulnerable".

One of the goals of the AARP Foundation is its Drive to End Hunger. In 2011, AARP and AARP Foundation formed a relationship with NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports to increase awareness of hunger in America with the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger race car and related food drives.[156] Through the Drive to End Hunger program, AARP also sponsored Hendrick driver Kasey Kahne, beginning in 2016.[157]

Charity Navigator rated the AARP Foundation overall at 91.22 out of 100 possible points (a "four-star" rating), giving it a financial rating of 88.26 out of 100 ("three stars") and an accountability and transparency rating of 96.00 ("four stars") for its fiscal year 2017.[158]

AARP Driver Safety[edit]

In 1979, AARP introduced the nation's first[159] driver safety course geared towards older adults. AARP Driver Safety,[160] which can be completed in a classroom setting or online, teaches defensive driving techniques and provides "added information on age-related cognitive and physical changes that affect driving".[161] The course is instructed and promoted by volunteers throughout the U.S.

In addition to course fees, the program is supported by a grant from the automobile manufacturer, Toyota.[162] Over a half million drivers completed the course in 2012 and over 15 million people completed the courses since 1979.[163][34]

AARP publications and broadcasts[edit]

AARP The Magazine, with a circulation of approximately 37 million, and the AARP Bulletin with 30 million as of 2016, are the two largest-circulation publications in the United States.[164][165] AARP The Magazine[166] (known until 2002 as Modern Maturity), is a lifestyle magazine for people 50+. Established in 1958,[167] the magazine is distributed bi-monthly to AARP members. Other publications include AARP Bulletin and The Journal.[168] In 2018, the digital publication titled Sisters from AARP was launched, aimed at African American women.[169]

The organization also produces radio and television programs and has a book division.[citation needed]

AARP en Español is AARP's Spanish-language multimedia platform. Offerings include a Spanish-language website, a Spanish-language YouTube channel, and informational resources.


Criticism has been leveled at the salaries that AARP staff earn, and the use of first-class and business-class travel for short trips. According to AARP's 2014 IRS annual return, Chief Executive Officer Addison B. Rand received $1,698,289 of salary and benefits from AARP and its subsidiaries.[170] Board members, officers, and key employees flew first class on flights longer than five hours unless business class was available.[170] The Chief Executive Officer flew first-class on flights longer than 90 minutes.[170] AARP reported that it had spent $8,694,890 on the compensation of its officers, directors, and key employees during 2014.[170]

Senate investigation[edit]

In 1995, Senator Alan K. Simpson launched an investigation into AARP's books, financial interests, and hiring practices.[171] He described AARP as "a vast empire that has figured out how to gimmick the nonprofit laws" describing the organization as "33 million people paying $8 dues, bound together by a common love of airline discounts and automobile discounts and pharmacy discounts," and that members "haven't the slightest idea what the organization is asking for."[172][173]

The investigations did not reveal sufficient evidence to change the organization's status.[174]

Class action lawsuits[edit]

In 2018 and 2019, several class action lawsuits were filed against AARP regarding insurance policies. One lawsuit is over undisclosed licensing revenue that AARP earned from AARP-branded Medigap insurance policies.[175] Another lawsuit claims that AARP acted as an insurance agent or an insurance broker, neither of which AARP is licensed to be, for AARP-branded Medigap insurance policies.[176][177] In another lawsuit, the plaintiff said that AARP should not have used its status to claim the AARP-branded insurance policies were "best for seniors".[177]

All the lawsuits were dismissed.[178][177]

AARP Awards[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Consolidated Financial Statements Together with Report of Independent Certified Public Accountants" (PDF). AARP. December 31, 2020. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  2. ^ Day, Christine L. (2017). AARP: America's Largest Interest Group and its Impact. Praeger. p. 61. ISBN 9781440834103. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  3. ^ "About AARP". Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  4. ^ Works, Fastco (January 8, 2020). "Shaping the future of aging". Fast Company. Retrieved September 8, 2020.
  5. ^ "Local: Obituary". Los Angeles Times. January 23, 2001.
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