The Role of Functional Capacity Evaluations in Workers’ Comp Cases

A Functional Capacity Evaluation, also known as an FCE, is a type of evaluation used to determine what, if any, work-related activities an injured worker can perform.

injured missouri worker at a functional capacity evaluation

If you’ve been injured on the job and filed a workers’ compensation claim, you may be asked to undergo a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE). But what exactly is an FCE, and how does it impact your claim?

In this article, we’ll provide a general overview of what to expect from an FCE, including the types of tests that may be used and how the results of the evaluation can affect your workers’ comp claim.

Functional Capacity Evaluations Explained

 A Functional Capacity Evaluation, also known as an FCE, is a type of evaluation used to determine what, if any, work-related activities an injured worker can perform. Although FCEs are most often used in the workers’ comp arena, they may also be appropriate for other purposes, such as Return to Work planning or disability determination. 

FCEs are performed by occupational or physical therapists who have been specially trained in the administration and interpretation of these tests. The therapist will use a variety of physical and mental tasks to assess the injured worker’s abilities. The results of the FCE can be used to help the injured worker’s physician or a workers’ compensation judge determine if the worker can return to his or her previous job or, if not, what type of work they might be able to do. 

Common Tests in an FCE 

Many different types of tests can be included in an FCE. Some of the most common tests include:

  • Lifting Tests – These tests assess an individual’s ability to lift objects of various weights and sizes. The examiner will typically ask you to lift objects from floor level, waist level, and overhead. 
  • Carrying Tests – These tests assess an individual’s ability to carry objects of various weights and sizes. You may be asked to carry objects in one hand, in both hands, or on one shoulder. 
  • Pushing and Pulling Tests – These tests assess an individual’s ability to push and pull objects of various weights and sizes. The examiner may ask you to push or pull objects on a flat surface, up an incline, or down a decline. 
  • Endurance Tests – These tests assess an individual’s stamina and endurance levels. You may be asked to walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike for a set period. Heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored during these tests. 
  • Range-of-Motion Tests – These tests assess an individual’s range of motion in different joints throughout the body. The examiner will typically ask you to complete a series of movements such as bending, reaching, twisting, etc. 
  • Mental Functioning Tests – These tests assess an individual’s ability to remember information, solve problems, pay attention, etc. You may be asked questions about past events or experience levels with certain tasks or activities. You may also be asked to complete simple math problems or remember lists of words or numbers.

Can Functional Capacity Evaluations Affect Your Workers’ Comp Claim?  

Yes, the results of an FCE can generally be used as evidence in your case and can affect your workers’ comp claim. If the results show that you can perform the tasks required for your job, then it could be used to argue that you should not receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, if the results show that you cannot perform the tasks required for your job, then it could be used to argue that you should continue receiving workers’ comp benefits

It’s important to remember that an FCE is just one piece of evidence in your case. The exam results should be considered alongside other evidence, such as medical records and witness testimonies, before making any decisions about your case. We recommend speaking with an experienced St. Louis workers’ compensation attorney before taking any steps in your case.

St. Louis Workers Compensation Lawyers

At the Law Office of James. M. Hoffman, we have over 30 years of experience handling workers’ compensation cases. We’re here to help you every step of the way and fight for the full and fair compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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Updated: January 10, 2023