Meet the Pensacola veteran who inspired Congressman Gaetz's new legislation
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) — More pension benefits might become available for veterans over the age of 99.
New legislation was introduced by Congressman Matt Gaetz this week.
Channel 3 sat down with the Pensacola veteran who inspired this act, First Lieutenant Joseph Ainsworth.
Like many veterans, Ainsworth has been denied pension benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) because of his family's assets.
We looked into it and under current law, veterans with a net worth over $129,000 in 2020 are not eligible to receive aid and assistance benefits. But with medical bills, and the high price of assisted living, many older veterans still struggle to make ends meet.
Ainsworth is a World War II Veteran. He tells us he was drafted into the U.S. Arm in 1944 and sent to the Philippines right after President Harry Truman dropped the world's first atomic bomb.
"What does this legislation mean to you," asked his son, Steve.
Steve helped us with our interview because, while his father is still very sharp, he's hard of hearing.
"It's the satisfaction that something has happened in favor of the veteran," Ainsworth said.
Now at 103-years-old, Joseph Ainsworth is in overall good health.
"The doctor says he could live to be 110," Steve Ainsworth said.
For the past several months, Steve and Joseph Ainsworth have been working with Congressman Matt Gaetz's office to create legislation to help older veterans financially.
The "Joseph Ainsworth Act" would change the net worth limitation for veterans older than 99, who would otherwise be eligible for pension payments.
"They can see a doctor more," Joseph Ainsworth said. "They can get the medication they need more. They can have whatever they need more."
Steve tells us he's been applying for veteran benefits for his dad for months, but kept getting rejected. His father has too much money on paper, even though he has many high expenses.
Now both father and son say this act is an answer to prayer.
"It doesn't happen overnight," Joseph Ainsworth told Channel 3. "Sometimes you have to wait and wait, but the Lord never fails."
In a press release on the act, Congressman Gaetz says, "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."
Read the entire Joseph Ainsworth Act here.