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News of interest to ARCRA members

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  • 06/30/2020 11:17 AM | Anonymous

    ARCRA is phasing out its toll-free number on June 30, 2020.  The new number is 202-303-7184.  Only the phone number has changed, the Retiree Connection support stays the same. 

    The Red Cross Benefit Service Center at 1-877-860-7526 can answer questions about pension, benefits and your Red Cross tenure.  However, sometimes retirees like to talk about things before they call the Service Center or are confused after talking to the Benefit Service Center.  The volunteers at the Retiree Connection are there to help.  They can even join you on your call with the Benefits Service Center if you think that would be helpful.  The volunteers, all ARCRA members, can also help identify community resource or lend an ear to talk about Red Cross.

    If you need help, call the Retiree Connection at 202-303-7184.  Leave a message-name, city, state, phone number, and email address if you have it, and summary of your issue or help that you need.  An ARCRA volunteer will call you back, generally within 24 hours.


  • 06/30/2020 11:16 AM | Anonymous

    On June 15, the Red Cross began testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID_19 antibodies and will continue testing for the next few months.  Testing for COVID-19 antibodies will provide donors insight into whether they may have been exposed to coronavirus.  The antibody test is authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration using samples obtained at the time of donation and sent to a testing laboratory.  A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity.  This is not a diagnostic test and donors who do not feel well should postpone their donation.

    Read more here.


  • 06/30/2020 10:17 AM | Anonymous

    There continues for be an urgent need for blood donations to meet the needs of patients in hospitals as surgical procedures and treatments that were temporarily paused this spring in response to COVID-19 resume. At the same time, blood drives continue to be canceled, as many businesses and community organizations restrict the number of individuals at their locations.

    Please set up a donation appointment and encourage family and friends to donate. Visit Red Cross Blood.org, use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, call 1-800-Red Cross or activate the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.


  • 06/05/2020 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    This resource was listed in the May eNewsletter but the link was broken.

    Being prepared is a key principle of the American Red Cross. We believe it is so important to plan and get one’s financial affairs in order that we have partnered with FreeWill.com/redcross so that you can create your will online – entirely for free.

    FreeWill is a secure, online tool that will take you through the will preparation process step by step.

    If you have a simple estate, you can print your legal will to be signed and witnessed. If you have a more complex estate, the same tools will help you document your wishes and help find a qualified attorney near you to finalize your plans. 

    Your will is one of the most personal and important financial documents in your life. Without a legitimate will, the government — not you — will decide how your affairs and assets are handled. 

    FreeWill.com/redcross  create your will online – entirely for free.

     

    Create Your Free Will Today


  • 05/28/2020 9:21 AM | Anonymous

    On Saturday, May 23, CBS This Morning  featured the experimental procedure that transfers blood plasma from a coronavirus survivor into the bloodstream of a patient still battling the disease is among the most promising treatments amid the pandemic. Its creation is credited to one man, Charles Drew. Drew was inspired to go into medicine after the devastating Spanish Flu pandemic took the life of his sister. Michelle Miller looks at Drew's life and accomplishments, and speaks to his daughter, Charlene Drew Jarvis, about his legacy.

    Click here to watch the program.

  • 05/11/2020 2:59 PM | Anonymous

    This Intercross Podcast for May 8 talks about the Convalescent Plasma and COVID-19 and the work of the American Red Cross in this effort.

    More than 175,000 people in the U.S. have recovered from COVID-19.  Once a person recovers, his or her blood contains antibodies in its plasma that can possibly fight the virus.  Those antibodies can be obtained from a donor’s blood and given to a severely ill patient via transfusion.  The hope is that these antibodies can help patients recover.  The use of convalescent plasma or plasma extracted from those recovering from a certain illness has a long history, dating back even to the Spanish Flu of 1918 and used more recently in patients with polio, measles, and SARS. 

    You can sign in and listen to the Podcast from Intercross at:

    https://soundcloud.com/user-940374434/arc-convalescent-plasma-covid19


  • 04/29/2020 10:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    How did the CARES Act (The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act [the Act], passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020), impact Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from IRA’s, 401(k), 403(b), 457(b) and other defined contribution accounts?
    by Jack Campbell, ARCRA Treasurer

    The nearly 900-page law provided relief to individuals and businesses in various forms but there were some provisions focused on retirees and specifically on RMDs.  Recall that we provided some guidance on RMDs in December 2019 and January 2020 for tax planning purposes as retirees hit the age thresholds where distributions are required.  However, due to the unprecedented impact on the economy of the shutdown of large segments of businesses, and related stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 virus, specific relief was granted by the Act regarding RMDs in 2020.  Tax and legal professionals are offering guidance based on the Act but detailed rules from the IRS and Federal government may still be forthcoming.  Here is what they are saying now in terms of tax planning in 2020:-

    What is the 2020 RMD relief?

    Defined contribution plans like those noted in the headline can waive/suspend required minimum distributions in 2020 with no penalties imposed.  The waiver is for everyone, not just those who may be directly affected by COVID-19.  This provides flexibility in 2020 due to financial strains caused by the pandemic.

    • For 2019 RMDs.  If a person turned 70 ½ in 2019, they had to take their RMD either in 2019 or before April 1, 2020.  If they took the distribution in 2019, they can’t undo that action and it is taxable in 2019.  If they waited until 2020 up to April 1, there is an existing 60-day rollover provision that can be employed to allow all or some of a distribution already taken to be rolled back into an IRA or other qualified plan.  However, the IRS recently issued Notice 2020-23 which extended the 60-day rule until July 15, 2020 for anyone who took a now unwanted RMD.  This applies for those who received a payment between Feb 1 - May 15, 2020.  So, if their 2019 distribution was taken on March 15, 2020, they have until July 15, 2020 to execute a rollover.  Otherwise, it will be taxable in 2020.  Note that there is only one 60-day rollover to an IRA allowed in a 12-month period.  Also, although permitted by law, some qualified savings plans do not allow rollovers to non-IRA plans.
    • For 2020 RMDs.  If a person has not yet taken their 2020 RMD, they can suspend taking it in 2020 with no penalty and avoid the taxes in 2020.  Statistics say that about 20% of people who take a distribution take the minimum.  That means that about 80% take more than the minimum, suggesting that they need it for their livelihood or a large purchase, down payment, etc.  If someone takes their 2020 distribution in any amount without rolling it over, it will be taxable income.  However, if they can suspend some or all of the RMD in 2020, they can avoid taxation and penalties in 2020 and allow more time for their portfolio to recover from the current market downturn.  Keep in mind that the age to start RMDs was changed to 72 starting in 2020 so if a person did not turn 72 in 2020, there is no RMD requirement until the year they turn 72.  For those that turned 70½ in 2019 or prior, they can suspend all or a part of their RMD in 2020.  The rollover extension mentioned earlier applies to 2020 RMDs as well.
    • If you received an RMD from a non-IRA employer plan in 2020 (prior to the CARES act), you should check with your plan administrator to see if the plan will allow you to return these funds into the plan.  If not, you may be able to rollover to an IRA within 60 days.  Rollovers can get complicated so the IRS link below may be helpful.

    https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/rollovers-of-retirement-plan-and-ira-distributions  

    What about those who have elected to take distributions automatically?

    If you want to cease or change distributions already underway, you will have to contact your administrator or custodian to review what contractual arrangements exist to make changes.

    Finally, there are more provisions that involve inherited IRAs and the application of the Act on those as well.  Please contact your financial or tax advisors to get the best advice that fits your particular situation before you take any action.

    Read more the CARES Act and RMD here.

    Review Your Athene Account

    Many Red Cross retirees are receiving all or a portion of their retirement benefit from Athene. It just makes good sense to log on to your account at https://www.lifeatworkportal.com/Athene from time to time to review your information and familiarize yourself with the benefit info available to you. On the site, you can easily:

    • Review Your Annuity Info
    • Request annuity verification
    • Review your communication preferences
    • Review/update your tax withholding preferences
    • Review/update your direct deposit preferences

    Recently, Athene CEO Grant Kvalheim wrote to all annuitants conveying, in part: “At Athene, your financial security is our top priority, and we are here to serve you whatever the coming weeks and months may bring. We maintain "A" ratings from A.M. Best, Standard & Poor's and Fitch Rating Services, and ended last year in the strongest financial position in our history.” The full letter is posted on your Athene accounts home page.

    Some retirees are receiving all or a portion of their retirement benefit from John Hancock which does not offer online access to annuity accounts. Call a Client Services Representative at 800-624-5155 for any issues or requests related to your account.

    A small number of retirees who began drawing benefits before June 1989 are receiving all or a portion of their benefit from Aetna. If you are in this category and would be willing to help us understand how annuitants can gain access to their account and receive customer service, get in touch at Admin@arcretireeassoc.org and we’ll share info with our members.

  • 04/29/2020 1:28 PM | Anonymous


    Due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 virus and lack of conformity in state mandated regulations, ARCOA has cencelled the Annual Meeting/Convention in Salt Lake City, UT June 11-14, 2020.  Health and safety of the members was the primary concern.  The meeting will NOT be rescheduled in 2020.  While the Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek says it will cancel all hotel rooms ARCOA recommends you double check your own reservation in about a week to confirm cancellation.  ARCOA is investigating a 2021 Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City.


    Please consider attending the ARCOA events in November 2020 combining the Fall Memorial and celebration of the 25th anniversary dedication of the Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C.  More information will follow soon, as the Board and Council decide how to proceed with ARCOA business and the November events in these unusual circumstances. Questions and concerns arcoainfo@gmail.com


  • 04/17/2020 10:21 AM | Anonymous
    While Census Day was April 1st...YOU still have time to get counted!

    For those who haven't completed it yet, the Census Bureau is mailing paper forms now and should hit mailboxes soon. You should fill out the Census.  An accurate count is essential to properly funding health care, education, and public programs including food assistance and support for people out of work in your community. Additionally, an inaccurate census count could decrease the number of congressional representatives from your state and decrease funding for your essential services..

    Filling out the census is a key way to be proactive about building and protecting your community in the wake of coronavirus. Don't wait to fill out your form -- whether it's by paper form, online, or on the phone -- and get counted for your community!


  • 04/13/2020 3:42 PM | Anonymous

    Red Cross faces a severe blood shortage due to the cancellation of blood drives at alarming rates due to the coronavirus.  Healthy individuals are needed to donate now to help patients counting on lifesaving blood. Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood.  The general public is responding to blood appeals, however more donors are needed to meet the demand for blood for patients.

    While everyone is being asked to avoid mass gatherings, it is very important to note that blood drives are not considered “mass gatherings.”  Blood drives are controlled events with trained staff and appropriate safety measures to protect donors and recipients.  Like a hospital, grocery store, or pharmacy, a blood drive is essential to ensuring the health of the community. 

    In fact, the U.S. surgeon general has said,”You can still go out and give blood.  We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future.  Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.” Find a blood drive near you.


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