AARP is the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families — with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. We also produce a range of digital and print media, including the nation's most-read magazine, AARP The Magazine. And we work for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen products and services to carry the AARP name.
AARP was founded in 1958 by Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, a retired public school teacher and principal in California. In 1944, Andrus went to check on a former teacher who was ill and found her living in a chicken coop. It was all the retired teacher could afford on her pension. Before Medicare was enacted in 1965, the United States lacked a national program to provide health insurance to people 65 and older. And mandatory retirement was commonplace, usually at 65.
Shocked by the teacher in the chicken coop, Andrus formed the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA) in 1947 to use the collective power of retired teachers to secure affordable group health coverage. After 42 insurance companies turned her down, Andrus persuaded a New York insurance broker to partner with her organization on a pilot program for retired New York teachers. The experiment was a success, and Andrus and the broker established a national version of the insurance plan in 1955.
Three years later, Andrus created the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) as a sister organization to NRTA. With membership in AARP — $2 per household annually — all Americans 55 and older gained access to its insurance benefits. In that same year, 1958, AARP began publishing Modern Maturity, a magazine that challenged stereotypes of older adults and presented aging as an opportunity and older people as a valuable resource.
Today we're known simply as AARP and membership starts at 50. Our mission remains empowering people to choose how they live as they age, through a broad variety of programs, advocacy and media. Members of AARP span four generations and reflect a wide range of attitudes, cultures and lifestyles. Approximately one-third of AARP members work full or part time, while most of the remainder are retired.
Advocating for people age 50-plus is at the heart of our mission. It's part of what we do every day from our national office in Washington, D.C., and from offices in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. On health security, AARP fights to protect Medicare, expand access to health care, lower prescription drug prices, support caregivers and protect nursing home residents. On financial stability, we fight to protect Social Security, establish savings plans for workers and stop scams and fraud. We also work to combat age discrimination in the workplace and speak up for the vulnerable and underrepresented on issues like affordable housing and food security.
Our bipartisan advocacy efforts have helped to:
Expand Medicare coverage of telemedicine during the Covid-19 pandemic, ensure federal coronavirus stimulus checks went to Social Security recipients and increase federal food assistance and paid sick leave.
Pass 40 new laws across 26 states to fight high prescription drug prices in 2019 alone.
Pass the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which expanded health insurance access and required insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions.
Create Medicare Part D, which provides low-cost plans that cover prescription drugs, in 2003.
Establish the federal “Do Not Call” registry in 2003.
Pass the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides unpaid leave to employees for care of a family member or to take care of their own health.
Pass the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which protects workers 40 and older.
AARP also has a long history of nonpartisan voter engagement. We do not support or contribute to political candidates, parties or campaigns and never have. As a tax-exempt social welfare organization, AARP is prohibited from direct or indirect participation in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.
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AARP's programs help enhance the quality of life for all as we age — and make us a force for positive change in communities across the country:
AARP continually evolves and invents to meet the new realities of aging. The way people are aging is changing, but many of the products and services they need to live longer, happier lives are not available. The AARP Innovation Fund is sparking solutions by committing $40 million in three health-care areas: aging at home, preventive health and convenient access to health care.
The AARP Brain Health Fund, meanwhile, has invested $60 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund to support innovative research into treating dementia. Some 50 million people worldwide suffer from such conditions, with nearly 10 million new cases every year. And our Longevity Economy Outlook finds that Americans age 50 and up contribute so much to the U.S. economy that they would constitute the world's third-largest economy if they were counted as their own country.
By leveraging members’ collective purchasing power, AARP has transformed the way leading companies serve consumers as they age. AARP Innovation Labs helps AARP develop new products internally and engage with start-ups, academia and other experts to shape and cocreate new solutions. At the center of this work is The Hatchery, a 10,000-square-foot workspace at AARP's headquarters that brings together creative entrepreneurs to share ideas for keeping people 50 and older top of mind as they design new products and services.
AARP has four distinct but connected parts.