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What is a Functional Capacity Evaluation and How Does it Impact my Workers Comp Claim?


Your doctor may recommend a Functional Capacity Evaluation. If so, you are probably wondering what this means, and how it could impact your claim.

Functional Capacity Evaluation

FCE (Functional Capacity Evaluation) is a type of evaluation done to see if an injured worker has recovered enough from their injuries to go back to work. They are like physical therapy sessions where you are asked to perform a series of tasks, and one session can take up to three or even four hours. The tasks can vary, but you may be asked to lift weights, stretch, walk, bend, and other exercises to see how your physical condition is.

An FCE is generally nothing to worry about. However, you should know some things going in.

Why Are They Needed?

At some point, your doctor will need to decide if you are able to go back to work. However, though they know a lot about your medical condition, they are not trained to assess your physical abilities to perform certain tasks, which is why the FCE is done by another professional.

The person who performs the evaluation will record your performance and send it back to your workers’ comp doctor for analysis. In many cases, doctors will decide whether you are capable of resuming normal or modified work activities based on the evaluation.

However, the FCE is not a simulation of a normal day in your workplace. It has a set of physical exercises that, in some cases, have nothing to do with your work. As a result, it is possible to score well on the FCE, but not be able to resume your work.

Can I Lose My Benefits?

If the FCE determines you are capable physically to perform a variety of tasks, and your doctor clears you for work, then yes, you will no longer receive workers comp benefits. The problem is, if you go back to work, and are unable to perform your regular activities because your condition hasn’t improved yet, you’ll most likely need to be given another position that can accommodate you.

However, if you’re employer does not have such a position available, unfortunately, it is possible to lose your job. This is why it’s so important to educate your doctor on the particularities of your job. When they receive the FCE, tell them if the activities you were asked to perform don’t resemble in any way the physical strain your job normally poses.

What Can You Do?

You have the legal right to refuse to perform any task the FCE therapists asks you to. To protect your rights even more, you can take a friend with you and have them record the session.

It is also a good idea to speak with a St. Louis workers compensation attorney, who may accompany you to the meeting, and intervene if needed. Additionally, a lawyer can help you fight to keep your benefits until you’re fully recovered.

Updated: September 17, 2019
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