The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODERICK
The essential facts of this case are ably set forth in Magistrate Scuderi's report. The claimant is a fifty-two year old man with a work history of mostly janitorial-type positions of short duration. The claimant submitted essentially uncontradicted medical evidence to support his claims of chronic alcoholism with many acute alcoholic episodes requiring hospitalization; alcohol-related grand mal epileptic seizures; alcohol-related depressive psychoneurosis; chronic duodenal ulcer requiring surgery in the past; chronic gastritis and enterocolitis; and degenerative disc disease of the lumbro-sacral spine with sciatic nerve involvement. In addition, there is evidence of impaired vision of the right eye, cirrhosis of the liver, and kidney cysts. At the time of the hearing before the ALJ (October 1, 1982) the claimant also was being treated for a broken jaw sustained in a mugging. The ALJ found that none of the claimant's impairments had lasted or could be expected to last twelve continuous months; that none of the claimant's impairments was severe; and that the claimant was not prevented from engaging in basic work activities. The ALJ rejected all of the claimant's testimony regarding his inability to work as not credible, citing, inter alia, claimant's "neat and clean" appearance, "inconsistencies" in the claimant's testimony, and the ALJ's disbelief of claimant's remark that on occasion bartenders would provide him free drinks when he had no money. The ALJ characterized the claimant's alcoholism as "episodic", and stated that there was no evidence of significant end-organ damage.
As Magistrate Scuderi reported, the ALJ's characterization of the claimant's alcoholism as "episodic", "not severe", and "not continuous for twelve months" is simply incredible:
A review of the record reveals that the [claimant] began drinking at the age of seventeen while in the army. He was given a dishonorable discharge from the military due to his repeated intoxications. By the age of twenty-nine he was unable to control his drinking. The administrative record contains extensive documentation regarding [the claimant's] continued [unsuccessful] attempts at treating his alcoholism. There have been innumerable [hospitalizations], detoxifications, and rehabilitations. Every doctor who has examined [the claimant] has denominated his thirty-one year drinking problem as "chronic" . . ."
Magistrate's Report at 7-8 (citations to Record omitted). The Magistrate correctly determined that the ALJ erred in considering the evidence of claimant's alcoholism. First, the ALJ failed to evaluate claimant's alcoholism in conjunction with his other impairments. McShea v. Schweiker, 700 F.2d 117, 118 (3d Cir. 1983). Second, the ALJ impliedly based his finding that the claimant's alcoholism wa "no severe" on a finding of no "end-organ" damage. This finding not only is factually inaccurate, given the evidence of liver damage and chronic ulcer history, but the Third Circuit has stated that "nothing in the Social Security Act permits rejection of a disability claim simply because the claimant has not experienced significant end organ damage." McShea, 700 F.2d at 119, quoting Hicks v. Califano, 600 F.2d 1048, 1051 (4th Cir. 1979). See Andrews v. Heckler, 573 F. Supp. 1089, 1092 (E.D. Pa. 1983). Third, the ALJ failed to apply the test for determining whether an alcoholic is disabled, which is "whether the claimant is addicted to alcohol and, as a consequence, has lost the ability to control its use." McShea, 700 F.2d at 119, quoting Hicks v. Califano, 600 F.2d at 1051.
The Magistrate also correctly pointed out that there was nothing inconsistent in the claimant's testimony, and that the ALJ's credibility findings were unsupported by the evidence. Finally, the ALJ also erred in compartmentalizing his analysis of the claimant's various other impairments, rather than evaluating "the claimant's overall condition" and reviewing the claimant's numerous impairments in combination. Kent v. Schweiker, 710 F.2d 110, 114 (3d Cir. 1983); see 20 C.F.R. § 404.1526(a).
The issue raised by the claimant's objection to the Magistrate's report is whether, on this record, any purpose would be served by remanding the matter to the ALJ for a rehearing. In Podedworny v. Harris, slip op. at 22-23, the Third Circuit stated that a district court, after reviewing the decision of the Secretary, may in its discretion "affirm, modify, or reverse the Secretary's decision with or without a remand to the Secretary for a rehearing." The Court advised that the decision to direct the Secretary to award benefits should be made "when the administrative record of the case has been fully developed and when substantial evidence on the record as a whole indicates that the claimant is disabled and entitled to benefits. When faced with such cases, it is unreasonable for a court to give the ALJ another opportunity to consider new evidence . . . because the administrative proceeding would result only in further delay in the receipt of benefits." Podedworny, slip op. at 23 (citations omitted). The Court also noted that "it is apparent that direct reversal of the Secretary is no longer an uncommon judicial remedy." Id. at 23 n.11.
In the present case this Court has concluded that it would be inappropriate to remand for a rehearing because substantial evidence on the record compels a finding of disability. The uncontradicted medical evidence of the claimant's impairments, considered in conjunction with his chronic alcoholism, clearly shows that the claimant is disabled. A review of the thirty-one year history of this claimant's alcoholism can lead to only one conclusion: that the claimant has "lost the ability to voluntarily control his drinking, thereby preventing his substantial gainful employment." Andrews v. Heckler, 573 F. Supp. at 1093. The only evidence on the record which could provide any support for a contrary finding is the claimant's statement at the hearing that he hadn't had a drink in several months (R. 54). The ALJ did not refer to this statement in his findings, and it is assumed that (like all the rest of claimant's testimony) the ALJ didn't believe it. The Third Circuit has cautioned that a claimant's insistence that he has curtailed the use of intoxicants is "a common accompaniment of the disease", and often "represents the rationalization of a sick individual who does not realize the extent of his illness." McShea, 700 F.2d at 119, quoting Adams v. Weinberger, 548 F.2d 239, 245 (8th Cir. 1977). In this case the records of the claimant's numerous detoxifications and hospitalizations are replete with the claimant's reported claims of sobriety or cure, all of which unfortunately and invariably have proven to be false.
AND NOW, this 5th day of December, 1984, upon consideration of the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Peter B. Scuderi, objections having been filed by the claimant and this Court having made a de novo determination of those portions of the report to which objection was made pursuant to Local Rule ...