A functional capacity evaluation or FCE is a physical examination that is normally ordered by your treating physician and performed by a physical therapist or an occupational therapist. The goal of a functional capacity evaluation is to determine what you can and cannot do as a result of your work-related injury. In other words, a functional capacity evaluation helps your treating physician determine your functional capacity to return to work and/or what your work restrictions should be?

A functional capacity evaluation will put you through a series of activities including:

  • Gripping and Lifting

  • Sitting, Walking, and Standing

  • Pushing, Pulling, and Carrying

  • Bending, Squatting, and Climbing

Basically, a functional capacity evaluation tests your ability to do any activity that you may need to perform on the job. This is done in an attempt to define your limits. For example:

  • How much can you lift?

  • How far can you walk?

  • How long can you stand?

  • How often can you perform these tasks each day, and how frequently?

The test will ultimately provide a report for your treating physician that describes all of the physical limitations you have as a result of your injury. This report will then be used by the physician to set your work restrictions, which in some cases may be permanent.

When Are Functional Capacity Evaluations Performed?

In most cases, a functional capacity evaluation will not be ordered until your treating physician has placed you on what is called Maximum Medication Improvement or MMI. This is the point at which the physician believes that your injuries have improved as much as they ever will and additional medical treatment is not expected to result in any further improvement.

Physicians like functional capacity evaluations because they provide some objective measure of what a client’s work restrictions should be. Instead of simply making an educated guess, the physician can rely on the results of the functional capacity evaluation to determine what restrictions you should have if and when you return to work.

Why The Effort You Put Forth In a Functional Capacity Evaluation Matters

Another important aspect of functional capacity evaluations is that they are also designed to determine if you are faking or exaggerating your injury. This is called validity testing. In other words, the test is designed to measure how much effort you actually give when performing the tasks you are given during the examination.

If the test indicates that you did not give very much effort, your physician may ignore the test results and decide to release you to full work duty, which can have a profound impact on your workers’ compensation claim and your ability to continue to receive benefits.

Whether a functional capacity evaluation can accurately determine if you are giving your full effort is debatable. However, if your treating physician relies on the test and believes that it can accurately measure your effort, then for the sake of your workers’ compensation case, it is extremely important that you keep this in mind when undergoing the evaluation.

Contact Workman’s Compensation for New Jersey

For more detailed information about functional capacity evaluations, or if you have any other questions about your workers’ compensation case, you should consult with an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney.

For help with finding a reputable workers’ compensation attorney in New Jersey, call Workman’s Compensation for New Jersey today at 609-412-4722, or send us a message via our contact form to arrange a no-cost consultation.