What Is a Functional Capacity Evaluation?

April 2015

If you have filed a workers’ compensation claim, your doctor may order a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) as part of your assessment. Although this evaluation may sound intimidating, understanding what it is and what it entails can help you approach it without anxiety.

The FCE Explained

In most cases, workers’ compensation doctors order an FCE when they believe a patient has likely reached his or her maximum medical improvement. An individual reaches maximum medical improvement when he or she is unlikely to improve any further even with additional treatment. The FCE is used to determine the patient’s ability to perform at work.

The FCE usually takes place over a two-day period, is administered by a licensed physical therapist, and may take up to six hours to complete. It involves a series of tests that typically measure the patient’s abilities in the following areas:

  • Overall strength
  • Repetitive motions
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Performance related to handling materials

If your doctor orders an FCE, it’s important to be straightforward and honest about your injuries and symptoms. It’s also important to use your best physical efforts during the exam. In some instances, it’s better to avoid taking any pain medication prior to the exam, as some medications can mask pain and interfere with your actual abilities. Always speak to your attorney before the FCE to determine whether you should abstain from taking your pain medication.

Once the FCE is complete, you are entitled to seek a second opinion if you believe the doctor gave you an unfair impairment rating. If you decide to pursue a second opinion, your employer’s insurance company must cover the cost.

Iowa Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If you have been injured at work, it’s important to speak to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Attorney Ed Keane today at (712) 234-3088 to discuss your case.

This website has been prepared by Keane Law Firm for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.