Neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2) is a rare genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue. These tumors can develop anywhere in your nervous system, including your brain, spinal cord, and nerves. NF2 is usually diagnosed in childhood or early adulthood. NF2 results from changes (mutations) in the NF2 gene. The NF2 gene regulates the production of a protein that functions as a tumor suppressor. In more than half of individuals with NF2, the disorder is caused by spontaneous (new) mutations of the gene. In other affected individuals, NF2 is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern
The diagnosis of NF2 is based on clinical exam, the symptoms, and imaging studies. Genetic testing for a change (variant) in the NF2 gene may be helpful.
Common symptoms of NF2 may include:
- ringing in the ears.
- problems with balance.
- gradual hearing loss.
- vision impairment.
- numbness or weakness in the arms and legs.
Sometimes NF2 can lead to the growth of schwannomas in other nerves of the body, including the cranial, spinal, visual (optic) and peripheral nerves. Signs and symptoms of these schwannomas can include:
- Numbness and weakness in the arms or lags
- Balance difficulties
- Facial drop
- Vision problems or the development of cataracts
Complications of NF2 include:
- Partial or total deafness
- Facial nerve damage
- Vision problems
- Small benign skin tumors
- Weakness or numbness in the extremities
- Multiple benign brain tumors or spinal tumors requiring frequent surgeries
Remember, Social Security will require that your condition makes it unreasonable for you to maintain any kind of substantial gainful activity. Again, since there is not a separate listing for the condition in the SSA’s Blue Book, you will need to show that the total of your symptoms makes it impossible for you to work or be trained to work at any employment which is available across the country.
Because NF2 tends to lead to multiple symptoms, some who suffer from it will qualify for Social Security disability benefits even if they don’t have any single symptom severe enough to qualify for SSA disability. This is because the SSA considers how your combination of symptoms affects your ability to find and maintain employment.