The opinion of the court was delivered by: Standish, District Judge.
On January 17, 2001, this case was referred to United States Magistrate
Judge Francis X. Caiazza for pretrial proceedings in accordance with the
Magistrates Act, 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l)(A) and (B), and Rules 72.1.3
and 72.1.4 of the Local Rules for Magistrates.
On March 8, 2002, the magistrate judge issued a Report and
Recommendation (Doc. 11) recommending that the District Court deny the
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 9), grant the Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 7), and remand the case to the
Commissioner of Social Security for further proceedings as consistent
with the Report and Recommendation.
Service of the Report and Recommendation was made on all parties, and
no objections have been filed. After a review of the pleadings and
documents in the case, together with the Report and Recommendation, the
following order is entered:
AND NOW, this 28th day of March, 2002, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: the
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 9) is DENIED; the
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 7) is GRANTED; and this
case is REMANDED FORTHWITH to the Commissioner of Social Security for
further proceedings as consistent with the Report and Recommendation.
The Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Caiazza dated March
8, 2002 is hereby adopted as the opinion of the court.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
It is recommended that the District Court: deny the Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment (Doc. 9); grant the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. 7); and remand this case to the Commissioner of Social
Security for further proceedings.
The Plaintiff Kathleen Sklenar ("Ms. Sklenar" or "the Claimant") filed
protectively with the Social Security Administration ("the SSA" or "the
Administration") applications for supplemental security income and
disability insurance benefits (referred to collectively as "benefits") on
May 25, 1999. See R. at 97-99, 273-75 (applications for benefits); see
also id. at 117 ("Disability Report," identifying "[p]rotective filing
date" of May 25, 1999). The purported onset date of her disability was
November 30, 1997, when she allegedly became unable to work due to
"alcohol abuse, anxiety [and a] sleep disorder." See generally R. at 97,
The Administration denied Ms. Sklenar's applications for benefits
initially and again upon reconsideration. See R. at 73, 75, 276,
282. Thereafter the Claimant requested a hearing, which was held
before administrative law judge Kenneth Andrews ("the ALJ") on May
On August 24, 2000, the ALJ issued a decision denying the Claimant's
applications for benefits ("the ALJ's decision"). See R. at 12-19. In his
decision, the ALJ highlighted and applied regulations promulgated under
the Contract with America Advancement Act of 1996, Public Law 104-121
(hereinafter "P.L. 104-121"). See 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(C); see also
ALJ's Decision, R. at 13 (citing 20 C.F.R. § 416.935(b)); id. at
15-17 (analyzing same). That statute effectively "bar[red] the award of
disability benefits based on alcoholism or drug addiction." See Torres
v. Chater, 125 F.3d 166, 169 (3d Cir. 1997). The ALJ made the following
findings and rulings relevant to P.L. 104-121:
The medical evidence establish[ed] that the claimant ha[d] severe
depression, anxiety and alcoholism.*fn2 The claimant's conditions
cause[d] limitations [that were] of a severity to satisfy Listings 12.04
[regarding affective disorders] and 12.09 regarding substance addiction
disorders. If the claimant did not have a substance addiction disorder,
her remaining impairments would be severe but would not meet or equal the
criteria of any of the impairments listed in [the relevant regulations].
The claimant's statements concerning her non-alcohol related
impairments and their impact of her ability to work [we]re not credible
in light of medical treatment required by the claimant's medical
The claimant's past relevant work as a dry cleaner/presser did
not require the performance of work[-]related activities precluded
by the above limitations. [Thus, t]he claimant's impairments [did]
not prevent [her] from performing [such] past relevant work . . . .
The claimant ha[d] not been under a disability[,] as defined in the
Social Security Act, at any time through the date of the [ALJ's]
See ALJ's Decision, R. at 18.
The Claimant filed with the Appeals Council a request for review of the
ALJ's decision, which the Council denied. See R. at 5-6 ("Action of
Appeals Council on Request for Review"). The Council's denial of her
request rendered the ALJ's decision "the final decision of ...