Things to Know Before Completing Your FCE Test

Things to Know Before Completing Your FCE Test

Did you sustain a work injury that caused a permanent impairment or disability? If so, the workers’ compensation insurance company or your employer may request a functional capacity evaluation (FCE) before paying permanent disability benefits.

What Is a Functional Capacity Evaluation in a Florida Workers’ Comp Case?

What Is a Functional Capacity Evaluation in a Florida Workers’ Comp Case?

A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) evaluates your ability to perform physical tasks required for work. It is performed by a healthcare provider, such as a physical therapist, occupational therapist, physician, or athletic trainer, and is conducted at a medical facility.

The healthcare professional will conduct several tests during an FCE to determine your ability to perform specific tasks. They should be objective, standardized tests. The evaluator may use various machines, tools, equipment, and physical maneuvers as part of the FCE.

Examples of the tasks and abilities the FCE evaluates include, but are not limited to:

  • Range of motion
  • Balance and coordination
  • Ability to sit, stand, and walk
  • Postural intolerances
  • Ability to push, carry, or lift weight
  • Physical strength

An FCE can last several hours, all day, or a couple of days. It depends on the person’s condition, the tests being used, and the intensity of the testing. Functional capacity evaluations also measure a person’s fatigue and pain levels before, during, and after the tests. Additionally, an FCE verifies the person’s reported symptoms.

Generally, the evaluator has a copy of your job description, including the tasks required to perform your job. During the FCE, they use your job description to note whether your condition impacts your ability to perform specific tasks. The evaluator tests each specific task during the FCE.

What Is Included in the Functional Capacity Evaluation Report?

The evaluator will draft a detailed report providing the results of the FCE. 

An FCE report may include information such as:

  • The restrictions and limitations caused by your injuries and conditions
  • The need for additional rehabilitative therapies, such as occupational and physical therapy
  • Suggested medical treatments that could improve or maintain your condition
  • Whether you can return to your job without restrictions
  • A discussion of your current job duties and your ability to perform those tasks given your condition
  • The types of job duties you could perform given your current impairment

The evaluator will note whether you are entirely disabled, which means you cannot perform any of the tasks required to do your job or any other job. Typically, FCEs result in a partial impairment rating. For example, your injuries may allow you to perform 60% of your job duties without restrictions. If so, the evaluator may assign a 40% impairment rating.

In some situations, the evaluator may recommend accommodations that allow you to perform your job duties. For example, you may need to take additional breaks throughout the day, or you may need to sit to perform most of your job duties. In those cases, you may be able to return to work with the accommodations in place.

What Do I Need to Know Before Completing an FCE for My Florida Workers’ Compensation Case?

There is no physical way to prepare for a functional capacity evaluation. You need to be honest and perform the various tasks and tests to the best of your ability.

However, things to keep in mind as you prepare for your FCE for a workers’ comp claim include:

  • Dress comfortably, including shoes and clothes that allow you to move freely.
  • Ensure that you leave enough time to arrive early for your FCE. It could delay your workers’ comp claim if you miss the FCE, or it has to be rescheduled because you are late.
  • Avoid taking pain medication before the FCE so that you do not mask your symptoms or pain level. Pain medications could give the evaluator the impression that you can do more than you can handle.
  • Always assume you are being observed from the moment you arrive for the FCE until you leave the medical facility.
  • Do not exaggerate your symptoms or injuries. Be honest about your abilities and pain level.

Medical professionals performing FCEs should be impartial. However, workers’ comp insurance companies often have specific evaluators they choose because the evaluators tend to be pro-employers. If there is doubt about whether the evaluator was impartial, your Clearwater workers’ compensation attorney can help you arrange for an independent FCE to confirm or refute the results.

How Are the FCE Results Used in My Workers’ Compensation Claim?

If you are injured in a workplace accident, Florida’s workers’ compensation laws provide for loss of income benefits. You can receive temporary disability benefits if you are unable to work while recovering from your work injuries. Your disability benefits end when you return to work.

However, if your injuries result in a permanent disability or impairment, you could be entitled to permanent total disability (PTD) or permanent partial disability (PPD). The amount you receive for your disability benefits depends on your level of impairment. The FCE is often used to determine the severity of the impairment.

Compensation for permanent total disability equals two-thirds of your average weekly wages before the injury. If you have a partial disability, your benefits depend on the impairment rating.

Some injuries may qualify for total disability benefits because it is presumed those injuries prevent someone from working. However, if the workers’ compensation company can prove that you can perform sedentary employment within 50 miles of your home, you might not qualify for total disability benefits.

The insurance company may use the FCE to prove that you can perform sedentary work. Therefore, it is crucial that you have legal representation as you seek permanent disability benefits. A workers’ comp attorney can help you appeal the decision and fight for the settlement you deserve.

Call a Clearwater Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Help With All Aspects of Your Claim

Preparing for an FCE can be stressful, and handling a workers’ comp claim on your own can be overwhelming. Call our Clearwater workers’ compensation lawyers at Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. We will help you with all aspects of your workers’ comp claim, including preparing for a functional capacity evaluation. Give us a call (727) 591-5610.