Matt Gaetz wants help for very old military veterans

The bill is inspired by a centenarian Pensacola Army veteran denied his pension.

If military veterans reach the age of 100, then they should be eligible for full military pensions regardless of how the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs calculates their net worths, Rep. Matt Gaetz is insisting.

Gaetz, a Republican from Fort Walton Beach, has introduced the “Ainsworth Act,” a bill named after a Northwest Florida veteran, 1st Lt. Joseph Chester Ainsworth of Pensacola, a 103-year-old Army veteran who was denied aide and attendance relief because of his family’s assets.

Under current law, veterans whose net worth exceeds a specific monetary limit are ineligible for pension benefits. The VA calculates a veterans’ net worth by evaluating the sum of the veterans’ assets plus their annual income. If that value exceeds the limitation the VA has set, the veteran is not eligible to receive pension benefits. The Joseph Ainsworth Act would eliminate the net worth limitation for veterans over 99 years of age.

“Military veterans are the heartbeat of Northwest Florida and are national treasures to the entire country,” Gaetz stated in a news release. “Eliminating this rule for our military heroes who have achieved such a milestone in their life will help alleviate financial burdens they may endure and also show our nation’s gratitude for their selfless devotion to our country. It is my hope that 1st Lt. Joseph Ainsworth’s situation will be eradicated for future centenarian military veterans and that his service to our country will be immortalized through this legislation.”

Ainsworth is a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War.

There are no readily available data on how many 100-year-old American military veterans are around, though the VA estimates that in 2020 there would be fewer than 250,000 of the 16 million World War II veterans still alive. Last year the VA estimated there were about 38,000 World War II veterans living in Florida, second only to the 39,000 veterans estimated to live in California.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]

One comment

  • Richard Elias

    February 7, 2020 at 9:41 am

    Sad to think we have to live to be 100 years to get these benefits, we deserve when we get out of the military, COMBAT Veterans especially! I have been a 100% disabled Veteran since 1974, I had to threaten to take the V.A. t o court. I was wounded multiple times in Vietnam, then I was diagnosed with non hodgkins lymphoma, I have been a diabetic since the early 90’s as a result of either the cancer or the chemo.

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