The mission of the American Retirees Education Foundation is to research, educate and inform retirees, future retirees and the general public on how best to protect and promote retirement income security and retiree health care. The Foundation will develop and advocate policy recommendations based on its research findings to relevant constituency groups, the media, the general public, and Federal and state policymakers.
AREF Mission Is Not…
we're not allowed to lobby members of Congress, their staffs or Congressional Committees. The bottom line is that the AREF is not allowed to lobby for passage of legislation or regulations.
AREF Is A Tax-Exempt Organization
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has approved the American Retirees Education Foundation (AREF) as a tax-exempt organization that is eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable donations. Click on the "Tax- Deductible Information" tab above to read and copy three important IRS approval documents.
AREF Chairman’s Message
AREF’s 2016 Key Actions
The American Retiree Education Foundation (AREF) in its second year of efforts to expand the research and education reach of the National Retiree Education Foundation (NRLN) has taken on a number of the tasks previously performed by the NRLN. This has made it possible for the NRLN to spend more time lobbying Congress and the Administration on issues and bills important to retirees.
The AREF Board hopes that the following actions by the AREF will demonstrate its value to the NRLN.
- In 2016, to begin the year, a 22-page document was written describing the type of research the AREF plans to undertake to educate policy makers and the public about retiree pension and health care benefits. These benefits, earned through decades of hard work, are being steadily cut back and put at risk due to a variety of corporate financial maneuvers, as well as by outdated or shortsighted federal government policies. A prototype for an inquiry letter was written that is being used to seek foundations that may be interested in providing grants to financially support research on retirement income security and retiree health care, particularly the need to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. A part-time grant writer was hired and has been using these documents in submitting proposals seeking foundations’ potential interest in making grants to AREF.
- In 2016, the AREF updated whitepapers, executive summaries and talking points that were used to educate NRLN retiree associations and NRLN Chapter members during the first afternoon of the February NRLN Annual Leadership Conference and the September Fly-In to Washington, DC. For the first time for the fall Fly-In, AREF provided proposed amendments to existing laws that would accomplish the NRLN’s objectives. The attendees used the documents to educate members of Congress and their staffs on:
- the need for changes to the Annual Funding Notice (AFN) to make the document received by single-employer pension beneficiaries more easily understood and with information that showed the real status of the funding of their pension plan.
- the need for changes to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) that would require advance approval by the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation and Department of Labor before two or more pension plans could be merged.
- the need for changes to ERISA to better protect pension plan beneficiaries when corporate Mergers, Acquisitions and Spin-offs of a piece of a company takes place.
- the need for Congress to pass legislation to reduce prescription drug price gouging by allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs and the importation of safe, lower cost of drugs from Canada. A letter prepared by the AREF was presented to lawmakers during the Fly-In asking that the letter or a similar version be sent to the Secretary of Health and Human Services requesting that she exercise her authority granted in a 2003 law to legalize the importation of drugs from Canada. Two weeks later 33 U.S. Representatives sent a letter to President Obama that included some of the wording used in the NRLN letter requesting he ask the HHS Secretary to explore implementing drug importation; keep drugs affordable developed with taxpayer funds, and address reforms to prevent pay-for-delay to block generic drugs from coming to market.
- During the February conference the AREF arranged for a professional Staff Member of the House Majority Ways and Means Committee to educate attendees on the Committee’s position not to be viewed as doing price setting on prescription drugs. At the September Fly-In, the AREF hosted a panel of Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation officials who educated the attendees on PBGC’s projected financial capabilities to serve as a safety net for terminated pensions; the PBGC’s 2016 annual guarantee limit for payments to individuals; the PBGC Risk Management and Recovery Maximization activities; Early Warning Program for at-risk pension plans, and information available at www.PBGC.gov.
- The AREF’s effort to educate retirees included the preparation and mailing of spring, summer and fall issues of the NRLN FOCUS newsletter.
- Information prepared by the AREF was used that to educate retirees of the Tennessee Valley Authority, Avaya, DuPont and in The Villages, Florida about the NRLN which led to the formation in 2016 of four new NRLN Chapters.
- The AREF prepared the questionnaire used to gain input, May 2 – June 5, from 6,737 retirees and future retirees in the NRLN Future Directions online survey. Participants in the 2016 survey were retired from 107 companies and public entities with nearly 2% of those responding still employed. The AREF also prepared the questionnaire to gain input, Aug. 3 – Aug. 18, from retirees in The Villages, Florida on the issue of The Villages Health Clinics’ decision to no longer accept traditional Medicare participants effective January 1, 2017. After the formation of the NRLN Villages Chapter, the AREF prepared the questionnaire for the Chapter’s Future Directions Survey, Oct. 29 – Nov. 30.
- In 2017, we have an opportunity to be on the ground floor of a new movement where all Americans interests will be re-assessed. The AREF has positioned the NRLN with valuable input, more research and advocacy is needed for the NRLN to lobby for retiree interests and to rebuff negative proposals.
I hope you can tell from above that financial support to the AREF is essential to the NRLN carrying out its mission to protect retirement income security and reduce the cost of health care, particularly prescription drugs.
Congress Makes Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) Permanent
The American Retirees Education Foundation (AREF), created to expand the research and educational reach of the NRLN, welcomed the news that Congress has voted to make the Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) permanent. This means that IRA holders age 70-1/2 and older may make direct donations of up to $100,000 annually without first taking taxable withdrawals from their accounts.
QDC has been around since 2006 but always had a “sunset” provision leaving donors uncertain whether the provision would be renewed. Now that QCD has been made permanent donors are free make larger contributions before hitting the maximum tax deduction and carry forward limits.
Donating appreciated stocks could save even more money by being tax-deductible and avoiding capital gains taxes. While making a pre-tax contribution directly from an IRA to a charity can be beneficial, donating appreciated securities to a charity is superior for tax purposes.
The big benefit is keeping donations out of the adjusted gross income reported on your tax return. Higher adjusted gross income could push you into a higher marginal income tax bracket and increase taxes on your Social Security benefit. This is computed using what Social Security calls "combined income" – your adjusted gross income plus tax-exempt interest, plus half of your Social Security benefit.
When an individual's combined income exceeds $25,000 ($32,000 for joint filers), 50 percent of the excess amount is taxed as ordinary income. If an individual's combined income exceeds $34,000 ($44,000 for married couples), 85 percent of the excess amount is taxed as ordinary income.
Higher adjusted gross income can also trigger the high income surcharges on Medicare Part B premiums. The surcharges start at $85,000 in annual modified adjusted gross income for individual filers ($170,000 for joint filers).
This year, the extra premium charges range from $66 up to $285 monthly for the highest-income seniors.
Anything you donate through a QCD also helps satisfy the annual required minimum distributions that must be taken from IRAs starting at age 70-1/2. IRA owners who do not need the distributions for living expenses could avoid generating tax liability by donating that way.
The AREF, a 501(c) (3) tax-deductible, nonprofit education foundation (click here for IRS letter), is hopeful that many of you will take advantage of the QCD being made permanent. Please consider the AREF, P.O. Box 65001, Baltimore, MD 21264-5001 as being worthy of your support to expand the NRLN’s research and educational reach and to enable NRLN to sharpen its focus as an organization lobbying for the passage of federal legislation and regulations that benefit retirees.
Bill Kadereit, Chairman
American Retirees Education Foundation