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AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization founded in 1958 by Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus as the American Association of Retired Persons, which evolved from the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA). Because of it's broader focus on issues ranging from medical care, social security, health and welfare, aging, insurance, financial planning, and consumer protection, the name was officially changed in 1999 to just it's initials, AARP, to include people other than retirees.

Each year, AARP raises millions of dollars in revenue. It has become known for it's far reaching influence which includes the affects that it has on the older population in the United States, especially the growing population of baby boomers who have already retired or are coming of retirement age.

The AARP exerts it's influence in the form of lobbying politicians and government employees for better care for the elderly and other issues that affect retirees. The organization reaches out to all levels of government, local, state, and federal, since it is permitted by its designation as a nonprofit organization under 501(c)(4) status.

  • 501(c)(4) exemption status gives civic organizations the authority to operate exclusively for the promotion of social welfare issues. Net earnings by such organizations are devoted exclusively to charitable, recreational, and/or educational purposes.
  • 501(c)(4) exemption status also gives organizations an unlimited ability to lobby for legislation to benefit it's members while being allowed to participate in political campaigns.

Although AARP claims that it does not support, oppose, or give money to any candidates or political parties, it spends millions of dollars each year on lobbying efforts for senior citizens. This has caused some members of Congress to raise questions about the nature of AARP's intentions. AARP has been investigated by congressional lawmakers but, as of yet, no wrong doing has been proven.

With over 35 million members, AARP is one on the largest membership organizations in the country for people over 50 years of age. That number is growing rapidly due to the baby boomer generation that has reached retirement age. Many people sign up for AARP because of the discounts on such things as hotel rooms, vacation packages and cruises, pharmacy services, legal services, and car rentals.

The organization is dedicated to making positive social changes as well as enhancing the quality of life for seniors. It provides a wide range of benefits, special products, and services. It offers it's members beneficial amenities such as health, homeowners, life, and automobile insurance, along with investment opportunities and retirement funds, and it promotes travel, easy living, and recreational lifestyles, offer senior discounts, and it provides other financial products.

Other amenities offered with AARP membership includes "the AARP magazine, the AARP monthly bulletin, and a Spanish language newspaper, Segunda Juventud. It gives a voice in Washington, DC and in each state, representing you on issues like Medicare, Social Security, and consumer safety.

The AARP Foundation is AARP’s affiliated charity which offer programs that provide security, protection and empowerment for older persons who are in need. AARP provides low-income older workers with job training and placement in order for them to re-enter the job market. Foundation programs are funded by AARP, grants, and tax-deductible contributions.

It gives free tax preparation to low- and moderate-income individuals, with special attention to those 60 and older and the foundations legal staff protects the rights of older Americans in critical health, long-term care, consumer and employment situations. There are also programs that provide information, education, and services to ensure that people over 50 lead lives of independence and dignity.

AARP is not an insurer and does not pay insurance claims. Instead, AARP allows its name to be used by insurance companies in the sale of insurance products, for which it is paid a commission like an insurance agent.

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