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News of interest to ARCRA members

  • 02/04/2020 3:38 PM | Anonymous

    Information taken from a message from Cliff Holtz, American Red Cross Chief Operation Officer.

    Over the past week, there has been much interest and discussion regarding the outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which has recently been identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and other locations worldwide. 

    On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of this 2019 Coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. While there is uncertainty about how this situation will evolve, the immediate risk in the U.S. remains relatively low.

    Internal Taskforce 
    As an organization, the American Red Cross has decades of experience responding to these emerging global health emergencies, and is fortunate to have tremendous expertise and institutional knowledge on staff who are working closely with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration to collaborate and advise.

    Red Cross has pulled together an enterprise-wide taskforce from all lines of service and functional departments to ensure messaging alignment, coordinated outreach as needed, and line of sight into all related operational activities or process changes related to this virus. 

    Response Efforts
    At this time, the American Red Cross is closely monitoring the spread of this 2019 coronavirus. To ensure Red Cross is prepared and coordinated, a  nationally led level 3 Disaster Relief Operation and an Operation Order detailing potential American Red Cross services has been issued. The organization is currently working with government agencies and state officials to determine what Red Cross support may be needed in the coming days and weeks. 

    Overseas, the Red Cross of China is supporting its government to help meet the huge and sudden demand for medical items including masks and gowns. International Red Cross societies are also working with health authorities to educate communities about how to mitigate the spread of this virus and informing people how to stay healthy.

    Blood Safety
    Scientific experts state that the risk of contracting any coronavirus through a blood transfusion is extremely low because of the current domestic health screening process for blood donors.  To date, there have been no reported transfusion transmissions of respiratory viruses including coronaviruses and influenza-like viruses worldwide.

    Out of an abundance of caution, the Red Cross is working to implement a deferral for individuals who have traveled to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau. Right now, the Red Cross asks that all individuals who have traveled to China self-defer, or to postpone their blood or platelet donation until 28 days following return to the U.S.

    On Feb.10, the Red Cross will formally implement this travel deferral, once employee training and process updates are completed.  Red Cross will continue to evaluate all emerging risks in collaboration with AABB, FDA and CDC to determine if additional intervention strategies will be needed as the situation evolves.

    Health Safety Tips
    As always, Red Cross urges simple precautions to prevent the spread of any respiratory infection. Here are a couple quick tips you can use now and all year-round:

    • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.

    For the latest information on the coronavirus outbreak, please visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.

  • 01/02/2020 3:16 PM | Anonymous

    On Monday, January 6, the American Red Cross will launch a critical need for blood types, especially type O, and platelet donations nationwide to help ensure blood products are available for ongoing patient care and emergencies.  Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of type O blood.  This blood type is the most needed blood group by hospitals but is often the first to run out...given its ability to help so many patients.  With more winter weather inevitably on the way and a wide-spread outbreak of influenza in 39 states, the Red Cross encourages all eligible individuals to give help to those in need.  Go to www.redcrossblood.org to make an appointment.

  • 12/30/2019 11:29 AM | Anonymous

    We all know a Red Cross staffer or volunteer who made an impact on us personally and that we would like to pay tribute to in a special way.  Consider making a donation to ARCRA "in honor of" that person.  The "honoree" will be notified of your thoughtfulness.

    Donated funds to ARCRA are used to support and further the mission of the association and also to cover the annual membership fee for fellow retirees who are no longer able to afford it.  

    To make a donation, click on the DONATE button in the navigation bar at the top of the ARCRA website.  Note information about the honoree in the comment section so that we can contact them.  You can also send a check.  Make the check payable to ARCRA and send to ARCRA, PO BOX 1581, Vienna, VA 22180.  Please include contact information about your honoree.

    Because of our tax status, as a membership organization that advocates for its members, gifts are not tax deductible.

  • 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

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    Next Avenue is unique among today’s media:

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    • 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

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