AARP stands forAmerican Association of Retired Persons. This is a non- government United States based organization and interest group. AARP operates as a not for profit campaigner for its members and as one of the most influential lobbying groups in the United States. ARRP also sells investment funds, insurance, and other financial products. Over thirty five (35) million members are claimed by AARP this makes it one of the largest membership organizations for people age 50 and over in the United States.
AARP was founded in 1958 by Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus. Since then AARP evolved from the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA), established by Andrus in 1947 to promote her philosophy of productive aging which was also in response to the need of retired teachers for health insurance. Andrus opened the organization to all Americans over 50 after ten years which led to the establishment of AARP.
Today, NRTA is a division within AARP. Andy Rooney posits that AARP was created by insurance salesman Leonard Davis in 1958 after meeting Ethel Percy Andrus who at the time was assisting teachers in obtaining health insurance through the National Retired Teachers Association. Rooney believed that Davis saw the prospect of selling medical insurance to the elderly rather than just retired teachers and for that purpose invested $50,000 leading to the establishment of AARP. Rooney also conjectured that the Colonial Penn Insurance Company was established by Davis as a way of controlling AARP. This led to the sale of millions of dollars worth of insurance to its members through advertisings in AARP’s magazine Modern Maturity.
For a number of years Colonial Penn Insurance Co. became one of the most lucrative in the United States In 1978. Following a 60 Minutes report exposé, AARP got rid of Colonial Penn Insurance Co. and signed up with Prudential Insurance Co. Up until the 1980s Leonard Davis had control of AARP, he endorsed the organization’s image as a non-profit advocate of retirees so as to sell insurance to members.
The non- profit claim of the AARP was investigated by the United States Senate in the 1990s with Republican Senator Alan Simpson, then chairman of the Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Social Security and Family Policy. Questions were raised about the organization’s tax exempt status in congressional hearings but these inquiries did not disclose adequate evidence to alter the organization’s status. The organization was originally named American Association of Retired Persons, but to reflect that its focus had become broader than American retirees, it officially changed its name in 1999 to just “AARP” being retired was no longer a requirement for members.