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.