Rome, NY (WIBX) - After the Social Security Administration office in Rome announced plans to close and relocate to Utica, several high ranking officials teamed up to stop it from happening.Rome Mayor Joe Fusco, Senator Chuck Schumer, Congressman Richard Hanna, State Senator Joe Griffo and Assemblymen Anthony Brindisi, all say they joined forces to help area seniors maintain their access to critical benefits.

Schumer said, "If Rome were to lose its Social Security Office all together, it would mean those thousands of Rome seniors and those in Western Oneida County would have to travel 15-miles away to Utica each way for basic services. Now that's a burdensome treck for those who simply seek to obtain benefits that were once just a stone's throw away. For others the distance could mean the difference between accessing their retirement, dissability and Medicare services, or not getting them at all. What good does it do to work your whole life, earn a social security check and then basically be cut off from those benefits thanks to some bureaucrat in Washington?"

The officials were able to reach an agreement to keep the office open for the next three months. During that time a pilot program will be implemented to measure the cost benefit of keeping the office open indefinitely. Schumer says he's also asking the Social Security Administration for its economic justification for wanting to close shop and relocate.

Congressman Hanna says the studies outcome and the future of the office will partly depend on the community. "So, let's show the Administration we're grateful, let's show them we need them, we're going to use them, we're going to show up and Mr. Schumer, Chuck Schumer, Senator Schumer, will be out there asking for a full year and I'm sure beyond." For the next three months, the office will be open one day a week until a final agreement is reached. The office is able to stay open rent free until July.

Shirley Kessler is a senior who attended the press conference in Rome. She says maintaining a Social Security Administration office in Rome will make a big difference in the lives of seniors. "It would be a horrible thing if they do close it. I have an awful lot of friends between the ages of 70 and 90 who can not get to places like this because they have wheelchairs, they have walkers, they're totally inaccessible to do things," she said. In the meantime, the officials are encouraging those who need the services of the office, to use it as much as possible during the three months it will be open as they work to keep it open through the year and possibly longer.

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