PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – A local man is appealing his award of benefits from the Virginia Employment Commission, but not for the reason you might think.

Steve Carmel has a job.

He says he’s really never been out of work his entire adult life, so he was a bit alarmed when he opened his mail two weeks ago.

“My application for unemployment had been processed and approved and it gave me the PIN number that you need,” Carmel said during an interview earlier this week.

The local shipping executive has worked steadily for the same firm for 30 years, so he doesn’t need and didn’t apply for unemployment. A second letter detailed exactly how much money the VEC was prepared to pay out.

“In order to do that they would have to have my earnings and that instantly alerted me that this was not some joke,” said Carmel.

The 26 weeks of benefits totaled nearly $10,000. Then he thought maybe it was a plot to steal his identity.

“But the weird thing is all the correspondence, including the PIN you would need to actually collect money is coming to my house, so it’s not like somebody hijacked my identity,” Carmel said.

Carmel reached out to 10 On Your Side after seeing one of our many stories about people trying to get badly needed benefits, but his case stands that whole problem on its head.

“It’s a distraction for VEC somehow to be fooling around with me, when there are people that need (the benefits).”

Typically when someone appeals the way VEC determines their benefits, they’re trying to get a higher number. Carmel wants his changed to zero.

“I’m not sure how they’re gonna handle somebody saying I’m appealing this because I don’t want it.”

Carmel is concerned because he doesn’t want to be accused of filing some sort of fraudulent claim when he never filed any claim in the first place.

He’s contacted VEC and 10 On Your Side has as well to find out what happened.

We’ll be sure to follow up on this case.

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