A Functional Capacity Evaluation (also called a FCE) is a test performed by a physician or other health care professional to determine an injured worker’s ability to perform a job and to determine their limitations after having been injured on the job. Healthcare professionals perform this standardized test to determine the worker’s functional impairment, assess the success of treatment, and to determine their ability to perform at a job in the present or future. However, completing a FCE without being represented by an attorney may put you and your case in a difficult situation. Let’s find out why.
A Functional Capacity Evaluation is considered more fair and accurate compared to the injured worker self-describing their impairments and limitations. Some injured workers may attempt to fake or exaggerate their physical limitations or pain level when performing a specific function. This more scientific examination is less subjective.
These test are usually performed by a trained professional, such as an occupational therapist. Depending upon the type of injury, the test may take several hours. The Functional Capacity Evaluation may include bending, lifting, walking, coordination, balance, and range of motion tests. The therapist will evaluate the employee in several different positions and using various weights to understand the physical limitations. The test results are usually sent to the injured worker’s treating physician in a formal written report.
The physician will determine and assign a disability rating based upon the physician’s assessment from treatment of the injured worker, the results of the Functional Capacity Evaluation and occupational guidelines from the federal and state governments. This is usually designated by a percentage of disability to the particular body part that was injured. An example would be a 15% permanent disability rating to an injured leg.
So how can a FCE hurt your case? Those who complete the FCE are paid by the insurance company. Some less than scrupulous FCE professionals will say that you did not provide maximal effort if you did not fully complete one of the tasks as requested. However, the reality is, you gave your full effort but were in too much pain or were physically unable to complete the task. An attorney can help ensure that improper conclusions from the FCE are used against you in your case. This can have a big impact on the value of your case and the compensation you receive moving forward.
With the permission of the North Carolina Industrial Commission, a Functional Capacity Evaluation may be reevaluated if the worker does not agree with the physician’s disability rating and believes the Functional Capacities Evaluation was improper or inaccurate. An injured employee would consult with his or her attorney when making this decision.