Disability Appeals in North Carolina  -   33 Years Experience
David R. Paletta
Disability Attorney

Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Boone
North Carolina

(919) 491-5643

Neurofibromatosis

Published by David Paletta

"Neurofibromatosis Type 2 is a disorder characterized by the growth of noncancerous tumors in the nervous system. The most common tumors associated with neurofibromatosis type 2 are called vestibular schwannomas or acoustic neuromas. These growths develop along the nerve that carries information from the inner ear to the brain (the auditory nerve). 

Tumors that occur on nerves in other areas of the brain or spinal cord are also commonly seen with this condition.  The signs and symptoms of this condition usually appear during adolescence or in a person's early twenties, although onset can occur at any age. The most frequent early symptoms of vestibular schwannomas are hearing loss, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and problems with balance. 

In most cases, these tumors occur in both ears by age 30. If tumors develop in other parts of the brain or spinal cord, signs and symptoms vary according to their location. Complications of tumor growth can include changes in vision or sensation, numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, and fluid buildup in the brain. Some people with neurofibromatosis type 2 also develop clouding of the lens (cataracts) in one or both eyes, often beginning in childhood." 

See http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/neurofibromatosis-type-2.

Legal analysis.

Step 1.  Even though this is a serious and complicated medical condition, disability benefits are not available so long as the individual is engaged in substantial gainful activity.  Thus, the appropriate time to file for disability benefits is when the complications from Neurofibromatosis Type 2 prevent the individual from working.

Step 2.  Neurofibromatosis Type 2 clearly constitutes a "severe impairment".

Step 3.  Neurofibromatosis Type 2 can be evaluated under Listing 11.05 on Benign Brain Tumors if any of the tumors have affected the brain stem.  11.05 impairments are evaluated under Listing 11.02, 11.03, 11.04 or the applicable Listing for the affected body system.  

Neurofibromatosis Type 2 can also be evaluated under Listing 11.08 if there are spinal cord tumors which cause disorganization of motor function.   11.08 impairments are evaluated under Listing 11.04 B.

"11.04  Central nervous system vascular accident.  With one of the following more than 3 months post-vascular accident: 

B. Significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station (see 11.00C)"

"11.00 C.  Persistent disorganization of motor function in the form of paresis or paralysis, tremor or other involuntary movements, ataxia and sensory disturbances (any or all of which may be due to cerebral, cerebellar, brain stem, spinal cord, or peripheral nerve dysfunction) which occur singly or in various combinations, frequently provides the sole or partial basis for decision in cases of neurological impairment. The assessment of impairment depends on the degree of interference with locomotion and/or interference with the use of fingers, hands and arms."

Discussion.

It is important to remember that disability benefits are rarely awarded based on a diagnosis.  Rather, an award of benefits is usually based on the severity of the symptoms. In Neurofibromatosis Type 2, the benign tumors are often removed surgically.  Thus, the disability decision focuses on the permanent impairment caused by either the tumors themselves or the surgical removal of the tumors.

If you have Neurofibromatosis Type 2, please feel free to contact me for a free case evaluation.
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