Marietta denies widow her dead husband’s pension, adds to her grief

Hal and Janet Cosper were on their way to work in their garden last July, when Hal told his wife to go ahead and he would be along shortly.

Time passed. When Hal didn’t show up, Janet went looking for him and found him inside the house, the victim of a massive heart attack.

Just like that, Janet’s partner of more than three decades was gone, leaving her alone to care for her sick mother and deal with the heartaches and problems she usually went to Hal to help solve.

“You lose your soul mate and you are terrified,” she said.

Alongside the expected grief, Janet Cosper had more to worry about. She quickly found out that the City of Marietta, where Hal had worked for 21 years, has a provision stating that the survivors of employees who die before retirement are not entitled to that employee’s pension.

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Suddenly Janet was dealing with another kind of loss — the loss of financial security.

At 66, Hal Cosper was planning to retire, but Janet said he was convinced by a co-worker to stay on another year, in part to prepare the building permit office he managed for new leadership. City officials have said Hal Cosper was aware of the provision and chose to continue working, but their defense of the policy is weak.

“I never said it was fair,” said Freddy Morgan said.

Morgan said he’s tried to get the full pension board to further discuss the policy to no effect.

“I’m only one of nine,” he said. “It’s been on the agenda and it never came for a vote.”

Read how the city defends its policy to deny Janet Cosper and other city employees pension benefits here.

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