Public Policy

Debra Whitman is an authority on aging issues with extensive experience in policymaking, research and the political process. As AARP's executive vice president for Policy, Strategy and International Affairs, she leads policy development in retirement security, health care, consumer protections and other issues.

Financial Health for All Ages

When I tell people I work for AARP, one of the first things they do is talk to me about their retirement plans, and often in terms of when they retire. More and more, however, I’m hearing about the kinds of plans they have if they retire. In many respects, working longer is something to be celebrated. We’re just beginning to understand the benefits of a multigenerational workforce, not to mention the increased personal fulfillment and even health benefits people …

We Must Make Our Communities More Livable for All

This post originally appeared in the IAGG 2017 Bridge blog. Across the globe populations are aging, and this far-reaching change is happening much faster than most people realize. In just five years, the number of older persons will surpass one billion; they are already a fast-growing presence in cities and towns of all sizes, every region and all segments of society.   Photo courtesy of Dan Burden This change provides countries across the globe with a great opportunity, because older …

Tax Day Special: How Much of the Income Tax Pie Do Older Americans Contribute?

By midnight on April 18, millions of Americans will have hit the File button in their tax preparation apps or dropped their tax returns in the mail. With 2017 tax season almost behind us, it’s a good time to take a look at taxes as they relate to Americans over 50 — specifically, older Americans’ impact on the federal coffers as well as the impact taxes have on their own wallets. And there’s another reason to look at this issue …

The Fierce Urgency of Now: How $880 Billion in Cuts to Medicaid Could Hurt Us All

If you have protection against future catastrophic out-of-pocket costs for basic life functions, consider yourself lucky. The vast majority of people in the United States don’t. Yet the reality is that there’s a 52 percent chance that someone turning 65 today might develop a severe disability requiring long-term services and supports (LTSS)—that is, help with such functions as eating, bathing, dressing and toileting. For more extensive care, the cost can surpass $250,000 for those over the age of 65 — …

Get a Power of Attorney (But Make Sure It’s Not a License to Steal)

Many of us understand that saving for retirement and for the long term is one of the most important actions you can take to ensure a secure future. So is protecting that savings. One in five older adults fall victim to some form of financial exploitation. Sometimes the loss is minor, but sometimes it can be disastrous. In a single case, the average victim loses $120,000, which is roughly the average amount of a 50-year-old’s entire retirement savings. AARP understands …

New Data, Real People: What a $100,000 Check Says About America’s Social Security Situation

Social Security surfaces in the news regularly — in all kinds of ways. As summer 2016 wound down, news broke concerning an 80-year-old homeless woman named Wanda Witter who, after two decades of battle and with the support of AARP’s Legal Counsel for the Elderly, proved that the government owed her $100,000 in Social Security funds. A $100,000 check for an 80-year-old woman living on the streets — that makes for a good media story, doesn’t it? More importantly, the …