Maria Tomlinson worked for 33 years at Sears Canada. She finished her career on May 21, 2016, when Moncton's Sears Home Store closed.

Tomlinson was told she'd get 66 weeks severance pay for her years of service.

But, she recently realized, the cheque isn't in the mail.

Sears Canada catalogue 1973

Polyester knitwear was all the rage in this 1973 Simpsons-Sears catalogue. Older Canadians may still remember mail-order catalogues from Sears Canada's golden days, but the retailer has fallen on hard times. (CBC Still Photo Collection/Simpsons-Sears catalogue, Fall/Winter 1973)

"When I contacted them, I got a message back yesterday saying that the severance program was stopped."

"It was kind of a shock to the system."

In June, the department store chain announced it would close 59 stores as part of a court-supervised restructuring. Department stores in Saint John and Bathurst are slated for closure.

Bathurst Sears, closure, June 22

In total and 2,900 staff will be laid off. When those workers lose their jobs, they won't receive severance or any extended medical and dental benefits.

Moncton and Fredericton locations are not among the 20 full-time Sears locations across the country that will be shut down. 

Even with her loss, Tomlinson considers herself lucky. She could see trouble on the horizon when her store closed, so she removed her pension money and took a buyout for her benefits, a move she's grateful for today.

"The people that are leaving now didn't have that advantage."

Tomlinson said Sears employees she is talking with are concerned about their pensions.

"You work your whole life thinking, 'I'm not going to have to worry about my retirement because I have a good pension,' and for this to happen. 

"It's hard."

The company has 16,000 retirees that could be affected by a court hearing scheduled for next week,  when the company will request permission to halt both its retiree benefit payments along with special payments it has made for some time to top up the underfunded pension fund.

Sears Canada told CBC News that how retiree benefits and pensions will be affected has not been determined.

But regardless of the hearing's outcome, Tomlinson said the sudden loss of income has left her scrambling.

"We had plans for the summer," she said. "I think some of those plans will have to be put on the backburner until we get  more information on our financial future.

Tomlinson had expected to look for a part-time job, but her return to the job market is happening sooner than she planned.