Sears Retiree Life Insurance Update

Our office along with co-counsel are representing a court-ordered retiree committee to protect the rights of Sears retirees to their life insurance through the bankruptcy proceedings of Sears Holdings.

Mike Mulder’s predecessor firm represented a class of about 80,000 retirees in a class action against Sears about 20 years ago, which ultimately was resolved through a settlement in 2001 and approved by the federal district court in Chicago. The settlement ensured that Sears would never modify or terminate the life insurance plan and ensured certain minimum life insurance benefits, vesting the benefit rights permanently. In order to have been included as a class member in the settlement, and therefore have a potential claim here in the bankruptcy proceedings, retirees must have retired from Sears prior to January 1, 1998.

The life insurance covered in the settlement was in place until just this last March 15, 2019 when it was unilaterally terminated by Sears Holdings, after it had already filed for bankruptcy. We filed a motion in the bankruptcy court for appointment of a committee to protect the rights of those retirees covered under the 2001 settlement, and the motion was granted. The retiree committee negotiated with Sears for certain recovery through the bankruptcy including for payment of life insurance benefits to beneficiaries of Sears retirees who passed away between March 15, 2019 and October 7, 2019, and claims for other retirees and beneficiaries for the value of their terminated life insurance benefits.

If you retired from Sears prior to January 1, 1998 and your life insurance has been terminated, or if you are a beneficiary of such a Sears retiree who has passed away, you may be able to assert a claim. All proof of claim forms were due to be submitted (and received) by May 13, 2020. For more details, you can visit the website If you have questions, you may also contact attorney Mike Mulder for more information as soon as possible.

Recent developments in this matter have been covered in the news:
Sears canceled the life insurance coverage of 29,000 retired employees. A judge just gave them a chance to fight for their benefits.” Chicago Tribune, June 26, 2019.
Bankrupt Sears settles dispute with retirees over life insurance benefits, setting up $3million fund.” Chicago Tribune, Oct. 4, 2019.