Nothing is sure after a life of hard work.

Bankrupt Weirton Steel Corporation will be terminating health care coverage and life insurance benefits for some 10,000 retirees, dependents and surviving spouses.

Benefits they thought they earned and expected to keep.

After a long bout with management problems and suffering the brunt of imported steel - the company has bellied up and is in the process of being taken over, maybe.

The company says "forced liquidation of Weirton is a realistic possibility" if the expense isn't eliminated soon.

"This case, however, has reached a point where Weirton can no longer afford retiree benefits, even on a limited basis," said attorney Mark Freedlander.

Living a few years in the northern panhandle and becoming acquainted with many of the old steelworkers, some who lived in the wonderful ethic neighborhoods of Wheeling, it was sad to see many of them also experience a loss of their retirement programs.

The old steel workers were proud of their contribution to the American cause, in war and peace, their last years spent in what is now the "rust belt" from Pittsburgh to Indiana.

Several steel companies in the late 80s and early 90s, ended up using their retirement pool money for other investments and to keep their companies running.

Many workers, some with service going back to World War II, lost everything.

This week, Judge Edward Friend says Weirton should not be obligated to pay retirees' medical claims after March 15.

Weirton has already reduced its work force by 40 percent since filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection nine months ago.

The company will likely be taken over by another steel producer.

Retirees have complained they accepted lower wages as workers in exchange for free, lifelong health care. But Weirton CEO Leonard Wise has said those promises were made when health costs were lower.

He said health insurance has become un-affordable not only for families, but for big companies like Weirton Steel.

It is admirable the company said "Our retirees will not be forgotten in this process."