Portsmouth retiree concerned about tax implications involving mistaken unemployment benefits


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — She didn’t want the money, didn’t apply for the money and never received the money. But the Virginia Employment Commission thinks otherwise.

Carolyn Smith received a statement in the mail this week saying she received $14,466 in unemployment benefits. At 72 and retired for several years, Smith didn’t apply for the benefits and says she never received the money either.

“I said this must be a joke, because I’m retired.” But Smith isn’t laughing. Pretty much the opposite, in fact.

“I got sick yesterday, I had to pull my car over and I got nauseated.”

Smith gets a pension and social security and that’s it. She worked for a while at the US Treasury, so, she said, “I know about taxes, and I know this is one you have to put on your tax return. You have to pay taxes on this money that you receive. And I didn’t receive any. Nothing was deposited in my bank account.”

She first received paperwork last summer saying she was eligible for benefits and got on the phone.

“I tried to call (the VEC). I even went around to George Washington Highway to the unemployment office and they were all closed because of the (pandemic).”

This week, Smith’s daughter filed a fraud complaint through the VEC website. Maybe someone, somewhere out there has made it their job to cheat the unemployment system out of $14,000 in Smith’s name.

“I don’t understand what happened. When I tried to clear it up I couldn’t get anywhere with it. I was on the phone with one of my girlfriends. She said you need to call 10 On Your Side on this mess.”

We’re sending her case to the head of the fraud investigation division at VEC.

Need unemployment help? Email reportit@wavy.com. To report fraud to the VEC, click here.

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