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News of interest to ARCRA members

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  • 12/03/2019 5:47 PM | Anonymous

    by Jack Campbell, ARCRA Treasurer

    Many retirees have wrestled with tax planning issues, especially as we enter our mid-sixties and seventies.  I am not a tax professional but my financial planning adviser has been very helpful in pointing out things to consider in order to simplify family finances and reduce income taxes.  My situation may be similar to some of you so here are a few things to consider. 

    !.  Consider consolidating multiple tax deferred accounts.  When I left Red Cross in 2004 I had accounts with several investment companies by virtue of participating in various 403(b) and 401(k) tax deferred savings programs.  The same thing occurred with my subsequent employer.  When I retired, I continued to get statements from each vendor.  In addition, depending on when each account was established, there were different asset allocation strategies (higher to lower investment risk) which did not reflect my current appetite for market risk.  Consolidating all of your tax deferred accounts into one IRA, with an updated asset allocation strategy, should be considered.  In addition, it can simplify withdrawals, especially once you hit 70 ½, when Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) kick in.

    In your first RMD payout year, you have the option of delaying your payment until April 1 of the following year.  Example:  I turned 70 1/2 in 2019 so I had to withdraw a prescribed percentage of my tax deferred account(s) value as of December 31, 2018.  People like me, who were taking their first payout, had until April 1, 2020 to do so.  However, think twice before delaying that first payout since you can’t delay future payouts beyond December 31, which would result in two payouts in one year, (in this example, 2020). 

    Also, if you have hit 70 ½ and still have multiple IRA and 401(k) accounts, payout criteria can be different.  Remember that 401(k) payouts cannot be aggregated like IRA payouts can.  If you have multiple IRA accounts, you can take all of your IRA RMDs from one IRA account versus a little bit from each one.  If you have two or more 401(k) accounts, you have to take the required amount from each one based on their values on December 31 of the prior year.

    2.  Consider reducing your taxable RMD withdrawals with Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD).  Each person’s financial situation is different but if you have been fortunate enough to still have significant tax deferred account balances (whether you consolidated or not), you can reduce the amount of the annual RMD by a contribution to a 501(c)(3) charity.  This allows you to reduce the taxable amount of your RMD by the donation, and still take the full standard deduction.  Also, by reducing your Adjusted Gross Income, you may be able to lower your Medicare premiums if you are paying in excess of the standard monthly amount due to your income level.

    Let’s say that you give periodic contributions to a religious institution or charity during the year.  With the new tax law in effect in 2018, including higher standard deductions, you may not get any tax benefit from those contributions, because the standard deduction is higher than your total itemized deductions.  Enter the QCD!  You can direct some or all of your annual RMD, up to $100,000 annually, to one or more charities.  Instead of weekly or monthly contributions to the same charity with no tax benefit, send them one donation from your RMD and reduce your taxable income. 

    Just be aware of several things about QCD’s:

    a.  As noted before, you can only distribute to 501(c)(3) charities.

    b.  You can only do this with distributions from IRAs.  QCDs can’t be used to reduce income from pension payments or 401(k) payouts.

    c.  The 1099-R you will receive from your IRA provider will not reduce your RMD amount by the QCD.  You have to do this yourself before entering the amount on your tax return.

    d.  Most importantly, consult with your tax preparer or advisor regarding how to distribute the QCD and disclose it on your return.

    Let me stress that some of the considerations above were a result of advice I received from a financial planning professional, but everyone’s tax and financial situations are different.  Consult your adviser to discuss these and other options that will fit your particular situation.

  • 11/18/2019 11:37 AM | Anonymous

    As part of the reformatting of the ARCRA eNewsletter, we have found a way to include your membership type (Annual or Lifetime) and your renewal date if you are an Annual Member in the header of your monthly eNewsletter.  So, you can now easily see your renewal date without going through the steps of logging on to our website.  We hope that you will find this helpful and an easy way to see when your membership renewal will be coming!

    If you have an email address and want to start getting the monthly eNewsletter, just email your name and email address to admin@arcretireeassoc.org. or call the office 202-303-7184 and Leave a voice mail with your name and email address. We will update your membership profile to include your email address and you will get the next eNewsletter at the end of the month.

  • 11/18/2019 11:31 AM | Anonymous

    Starting October 1, 2020, you will need to present a REAL ID-compliant license, current U.S passport, or another acceptable form of identification for domestic air travel or to enter federal government facilities.  

    Check out the list of acceptable IDs at  https://www.dhs.gov/real-id  

    If your driver's license is expiring soon, consider updating your driver's license to REAL ID.

    If you use your driver's license for identification for domestic travel, you need to update your driver's license to REAL ID.

    A REAL ID compliant driver’s license is one that meets, and is issued by a state that complies with the REAL ID Act’s security standards. For questions go to https://www.dhs.gov/real-id

  • 11/04/2019 12:39 PM | Anonymous

    Looking for an interesting and meaningful project this winter?

    Check out Project FeederWatch, a citizen-science initiative of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. Volunteers across North American help to conduct  a census of North American birds  from Nov. 9 through April 3 by crowd sourcing data.  You select an area to monitor-the space around the bird feeder in your back yard for example.  You count the birds you see and record the number and species of birds online. The study recommends that you monitor for two consecutive days a week,.  But if you have travel planned for the holidays, it is OK if you miss a few weeks or a month. At the end of the census season, scientists aggregate the data.

    Data provides information on changing bird populations.  A new study shows that nearly three billion North American birds have been lost since 1970, many of them once-common backyard birds.  Data collected through Project FeederWatch provides information on the effects of changing climate and environment on bird populations.

    Click her to get Project FeederWatch information

  • 10/31/2019 12:20 PM | Anonymous

    Flu season is underway, and it is expected that more than half of the U.S. population will get a flu vaccine this year according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID). However, the American Red Cross does not defer individuals from donating blood after receiving the influenza vaccine if they are symptom-free and meet all other donation eligibility requirements.

    Important Flu and Blood Facts

    The flu vaccine can be administered by a flu shot or intranasal. Neither are cause for a blood donation deferral and there is no risk of transmitting the influenza virus after receiving the vaccine. Additionally, influenza virus has not been shown to be transmitted through blood transfusion.

    For those that have the flu, it is important to wait until they no longer exhibit flu symptoms, have recovered completely and feel well before attempting to donate. All blood donors must feel healthy and well on the day of donation.

    How Healthy Individuals Can Donate

    Learn more about how to stay healthy this flu season so you can help patients in need. Individuals can find more information about preventing the flu on redcross.org, as well as receive guidance on the flu from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Schedule an appointment to give blood with the American Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or activating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.

  • 10/31/2019 12:12 PM | Anonymous

    We are all aware of the cardiovascular problems created by high levels of trans fat.  A new study published in the journal  Neurology found that people with higher levels of trans fats in their blood may be 50% to 75% more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease or dementia from any cause. Read more 

    Artificial trans fats, or trans fatty acids, are made when vegetable oil hardens in a process called hydrogenation. Those hydrogenated fats can be used in fried foods, snack foods or baked goods, and in products such as vegetable shortening, stick margarine, coffee creamer, cakes, pie crusts, frozen pizza, cookies, crackers, biscuits, dozens of other processed foods and ready-to-use frosting. They don't spoil as quickly as other fats, but they can have some harmful health effects, such as raising levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and increasing risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. The food industry loves trans fats because they are cheap to produce, last a long time and give foods a great taste and texture.

    The World Health Organization is calling for elimination of trans fat in foods by 2003. Read more
  • 10/16/2019 5:04 PM | Anonymous

    Next Avenue is public media's first and only national journalism service for America's booming senor population-people over 50.   Already over 40 million people have accessed information on the website www.nextavenue.org  and millions more use the platforms and partnerships.  Next Avenue is a two-way conversation that comes to life on the website, in social media, in user panels and in surveys and polls.

    Next Avenue is unique among today’s media:

    • It is part of the PBS system.
    • Includes articles by journalists and experts passionate about serving the senior audience.
    • Provides access to a network of impeccable sources and prestigious partnerships.
    • Is a media outlet not focused to the bottom line, but to make a difference in the lives of the senior audience.

    Sign up for the free e-newsletters and follow Next Avenue on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Pinterest

  • 10/04/2019 12:40 PM | Anonymous

    ARCOA Honorees Help Keep Red Cross History Alive

    The service of remembrance for those who have died in service to the American Red Cross is held annually at national headquarters. Each year, a wreath is placed in the garden at Red Cross Square at the foot of the statue commissioned by ARCOA and created by the world-famous sculptor of the Iwo Jima Marine Memorial, Felix de Weldon.  The sculpture was dedicated in 1959.  Its depiction of the three Red Cross workers reaching to help a fallen soldier embodies the spirit of the organization.

    The American Red Cross Overseas Association (ARCOA) is an independent national organization that started post WWII in 1949.  It serves to renew and continue friendships created while in Red Cross service overseas, keeps alive the spirit that prompted that service, contributes to international understanding, works for the mutual benefit of members, engages in community service, provides services to members in need, acknowledges an outstanding humanitarian annually, and makes training funds available to members, members' children and grandchildren.


  • 10/01/2019 9:50 AM | Anonymous

    Although you don’t need to sign up for Medicare each year, you should review your coverages and make changes if the choices you made for 2019 no longer meet your needs. Making changes could also lower your out-of-pocket costs

    October 1

    Compare your 2019 coverage with other options

    October 15-December 7

    Change your health or prescription d  rug (Part D) coverage if you find plans that belter meet your needs

    January 1

    New coverage begins if you made changes. If you kept your 2019 coverage, any changes in premiums or coverage take effect.

    Each year, many Medicare participants allow their supplemental coverage, Medicare Advantage or Part D (prescriptions drug) coverage to rollover into the new year only to learn later that premiums have gone up significantly or that medications they need are no longer covered or are much more expensive. Although it can take a little time, an annual review of your coverage can improve your coverage and sometimes save you money.

    Fortunately, there are excellent resources to help with comparison and enrollment:

    • ·         Most current Medicare enrollees will receive “Medicare & You 2010”; the official US Gov’t Medicare Handbook
    • ·         https://www.medicare.gov/plan-compare is an “official” website designed to help make the right choice.
    • ·         Not online? Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for help
    • ·         Red Cross retirees can also receive support through the Aon Retiree Health Exchange at https://retiree.aon.com/ or by phoning 1-877-458-9657. (Retirees receiving American Red Cross Retiree Health reimbursement must purchase coverages through Aon.)
    Your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) also offers free personalized support; check local sources for the number.

  • 09/05/2019 5:37 PM | Anonymous

    Save the Date for ARCRA Zoom Video Conference call with SVP, Koby Langley - September 17, 2019 at 1:30 PM Eastern or 10:30 AM Pacific Time

    IMPORTANT: New link and number https://zoom.us/j/721187175

    The Advocacy & Education Committee is happy to introduce a new tool we hope will provide another means for us to stay in touch. It is the ARCRA Zoom Video Conference. Many of you have participated in WebEx Webinars. The same folks who built it, came together and built Zoom. The difference is, for small users, it is free. And it’s much simpler than WebEx. ARCRA Zoom video conferencing makes it easy for the Association to reach all retirees. If you have a computer, mobile device or a phone, you can join us in educational and perhaps entertaining exchange. For a preview, go to www.Zoom.us. or you can join in your web browser by using these steps:

    1. Click the link below to join the meeting.
    2. An option Join from your Browser may appear automatically. If it does not, select download & run Zoom.
    3. The option Join from your Browser will appear.
    4. You will be prompted to enter your name.
    5. Click Join to be taken into the meeting.

    Our inaugural speaker is Koby Langley, JD MPA, Senior vice President International Services and Services to the Armed Forces for American Red Cross. Koby started with Red Cross as SVP for SAF in February, 2015. He was asked to take on the additional responsibilities for International Services and International Humanitarian Law in July, 2018. The video conference will be set up so that Koby will give us an update on American Red Cross generally, then talk about his portfolio of International and SAF. Following his presentation there will be a question and answer session with Koby at which time you can ask any questions you might have for him. If you are shy, there is a chat function so you can write and submit your questions for his response. We hope this ARCRA Zoom video conference will be the first of many informative and fun ways to be in touch with fellow retirees, Red Cross leaders and other folks we can engage in mutually beneficial conversations. If you have questions or suggestions for other subjects, email Harold Brooks, Chair ARCRA Advocacy & Education Committee at harold.brooks@me.com

    Time: Sep 17, 2019 1:30 PM Eastern or 10:30 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

    Join ARCRA Zoom Meeting

    IMPORTANT: New link and number https://zoom.us/j/721187175

    One tap mobile

    408.638.0968,,2977927960# meeting number, US (San Jose)

    669.900.6833,,2977927960# meeting number, US (San Jose)

    If you are unable to log in with a computer you can dial using the numbers above

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