The city of Houston is having issues paying the benefits of some of its public servants.

For 21 years, Margaret Roberts served the city as a firefighter. She loved her job and hoped to retire after her service and enjoy her remaining days with her family. However, that did not happen.

According to an investigative report by ABC 13, she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and died in January 2017 following a four-year battle.  

"I had to sit there for almost five years and watch her die daily," Margaret's husband, Daniel Roberts, told the outlet.

Houston Fire Department Chief Sam Pena wrote two letters to the Texas state pension system and The 100 Club so that her grieving family could get the benefits she deserved.

Pena stated in both letters the cancer was sustained by her time on the squad and he wrote, "Declared a Line of Duty Death." 

When it came time to pay up, the organizations made it nearly impossible for the family. The city did not believe her cancer was work-related. Instead, officials claimed Roberts' illness and subsequent death was because of her race, weight and family history. 

"The city saw the opportunity to re-dispute the claim starting all over again," said Mike Sprain, the Roberts family attorney.

The Roberts family sought a doctor who sided with them claiming "Margaret Roberts' multiple myeloma is work-related."

Four states and studies linked cancer to the firefighting, as well. In 1983, 2001, 2006 and 2015, studies showed an increased risk for firefighters getting multiple myeloma.

"I guess they don't want to pay the benefits that me and my kids have coming," Daniel Roberts said.

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