Five things injured workers should know about functional capacity evaluations
A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) is done to determine a person’s capacity for work. It is a series of different tests that include analyzing the patient’s ability to bend, hold, lift, push, pull, stand, walk, and reach. The individual’s flexibility and balance are also tested. The results of an FCE may lead the doctor to change his or her diagnosis of the patient’s injuries and physical condition. The Social Security Administration refers to its FCE as an Assessment of Disability.
Who orders an FCE?
Some states require an FCE by law prior to injured workers returning to work. A workers compensation attorney can advise injured parties of the state laws that apply to their case and responsibilities of the employer. Insurance companies typically cover FCE costs. Injured individuals can request an FCE that they may have to pay for themselves.
Why a patient may benefit from an FCE
If an injured person’s medical treatment is concluded and they are soon returning to work, an FCE can establish the type of work they can or cannot perform. Individuals seeking to be declared disabled by the Social Security Administration so they are then eligible for disability benefits need an Assessment of Disability to establish the level of their disability. An FCE can also help injured parties seeking punitive damages due to an accident.
An FCE is different than a medical exam
A thorough FCE will take several hours or up to three days. The tests typically include physical actions similar to the duties that are required for the injured worker’s occupation. A medical exam does not require much physical effort from the patient. An FCE requires the patient to do sometimes strenuous physical activity for a sustained period of time.
Can a claimant be required to have an FCE?
Insurance companies may assert that because they have the right to have the insured examined by a doctor of their choosing they can also require the injured party undergo an FCE. In some instances, an FCE can greatly exacerbate the injuries or medical condition of an individual. A workers compensation attorney can advise injured parties of their rights and responsibilities.
Other FCE considerations
Courts have ruled that an FCE does not prove or disprove a patient’s claims of chronic pain. In other cases, courts have determined that the FCE does not present an accurate picture of a patient’s abilities because some conditions like fibromyalgia vary in severity from day to day.