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What is a Functional Capacity Evaluation?

When you file for long-term disability insurance, your insurance company may require objective proof of your disability. One way you can bolster your evidence for your claim or appeal is through a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE). A Functional Capacity Evaluation is a series of tests that can measure your physical limitations. Generally, the test determines how much your injuries can limit your ability to perform work tasks. An FCE can provide strong evidence of your limitations for work, as the results are quantifiable.

Is a Functional Capacity Evaluation Helpful to my Claim?

An FCE is a good way of providing objective evidence of your condition as a result of your injury. The test helps define your limitations in and out of the workplace. If you are living with the following symptoms as a result of a debilitating injury or illness, an FCE may be helpful for you:

  • Limited or abnormal movements
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty positioning
  • Balance issues
  • Pain
  • Poor dexterity
  • Numbness
  • Fatigue

If your physical limitations are impaired, a Functional Capacity Evaluation can provide evidence of your restricted capabilities. Additionally, you should be aware that this evaluation is just for physical limitations. It does not account for limitations in visual, auditory, mental, or cognitive issues. Those would require different testing methods.

A medical professional fills out form on a clipboard at a desk - fucntional capacity evaluation concept

Who Runs a Functional Capacity Evaluation?

A Functional Capacity Evaluation is run by a trained medical professional. Usually, the test is given by an occupational therapist or a rehabilitation physician. Facilities that provide occupational rehabilitative care may often have a medical professional who can run the evaluation. You may want to take the FCE at a facility where you are already receiving rehabilitative care. However, your disability attorney may be able to recommend testing sites to you.

What To Expect During Your FCE

The Functional Capacity Evaluation is an assessment of your physical capabilities throughout a work day. As such, it is important to understand what to expect going in.

How Long Does an FCE Take?

The FCE is generally given over 1 or 2 days.  For each day of your evaluation, you should expect to spend the whole day at the facility. Most disability attorneys will recommend that you take a 2-day exam. The 2-day evaluation will be much more effective in informing your facilitator of your capacity for activity over a sustained period. It also allows them to compare a decrease in functional ability over the 2 days. Overall, this helps insurers see why you can not sustain functional ability over a work week.

What Should I Wear?

The FCE is a series of physical tasks, so you should wear comfortable clothes that do not restrict mobility. Wear comfortable sneakers, casual pants, and casual clothing. Be sure to wear layers so you can be comfortable throughout the process.

Arranging for A Ride to Your FCE

It is suggested that most individuals arrange for a ride to/from their test. Many people experience an increase in pain, fatigue, and other symptoms after an FCE. So, for your safety, someone else should drive you if possible.

What Should I Bring with Me to An FCE?

Bring any medications you take, as well as any assistive devices you use (such as glasses, a cane, or a brace). Your attorney should provide your medical records and additional occupational info to the evaluator. All of this information will help the evaluator create a more thorough assessment of your disability.

What Kinds of Tests are Involved in a Functional Capacity Evaluation?

The tasks you will be performing during your FCE will test several parameters to get a general sense of your physical capabilities.  These capabilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Balance
  • Ability to sit, stand, or walk
  • Lifting and carrying capabilities
  • Range of motion
  • fatigue levels
  • Posture intolerances
  • Overall physical strength
  • And your ability to perform fine manipulations.

The tests will be performed through a series of machines, tools, and maneuvers to test your physical abilities and limitations. Generally, the second day of testing will be similar to the first, with many of the tests repeating. This helps the evaluator see a difference in your ability to perform the tasks across multiple days, and the overall toll they take. Click here to see an example of what an FCE may test for.

Will the Evaluator Question me About my Disabilities?

Yes. Your evaluator will likely question you about your injury, symptoms, and your complaints. These questions will help them get a better understanding of your condition. The more info they have, the more accurate their report can be.

Observations During the FCE

The evaluator is there to make observations and ensure that you are putting in as much effort as possible to the tests. But, they are also there to note your pain response and the limitations of your movements. They can use these observations to make their conclusion about the reliability of your results.

Be sure to communicate with your evaluator any additional pain or worsening symptoms during testing. If you experience pain, dizziness, or fatigue, during the FCE, you must let them know. This is vital to your safety, and the accuracy of the test. The evaluator can then note which motions and tasks caused an increase in your symptoms. They may also stop certain tasks if they feel that you are unable to perform them.

If you feel that you are physically unable to perform a test, tell the instructor and await further instruction. You shouldn’t attempt to complete a task if you feel that doing so would jeopardize your health and safety. The evaluator may omit tests you aren’t able to perform. However, you should try to complete tasks if possible, as they help provide an accurate depiction of your limitations.

If  You are Taking a 2-Day Functional Capacity Evaluation

You are likely to experience pain and fatigue after the first day of testing. When you show up on the second testing day, be sure to communicate your symptoms with your evaluator. The level of pain and fatigue you experience should be well documented for the second day of testing. The evaluator may also adjust your tests for the second day based on your report.

Should I Take a Functional Capacity Evaluation if I am Recovering From Surgery or in Rehabilitative Therapy?

You should most likely not do an FCE if you are currently recovering from surgery or engaged in a rehabilitative program. They may skew the results of your evaluation. Communicate any of these circumstances to your evaluator before scheduling.

Additional Testing: Neuropsychological Evaluations

While a Functional Capacity Evaluation tests for physical capabilities and limits, a Neuropsychological Evaluation reviews your mental and cognitive capabilities. It is the best way to measure the severity of cognitive and psychological long-term disabilities. The tests help provide a detailed and objective analysis of your cognitive symptoms. This can be essential to building your disability case. Discuss with your disability attorney to see if a neuropsychological evaluation can help build your case.

How does my Disability Attorney Help With My Functional Capacity Evaluation?

Your disability attorney can help you step-by-step through your disability insurance claim and appeals if necessary. When it comes to your FCE, your attorney can help in a variety of ways. Firstly, they can help you decide if an FCE will help you build your case. Next, they can recommend to the facilitator which tasks you should be tested on based on the type of work you did before your injury. Then, they can provide medical records and other vital background info to the evaluator. This gives the evaluator as much info going into your test as possible. After the test, your attorney can review the results, and look for inaccuracies that may need correction. Lastly, your attorney can help you assess whether or not the FCE is supportive of your claim. They can also highlight the most favorable parts of the report for your insurance review.

If you are looking to file a long-term disability claim for your condition, you should seek out an experienced attorney. At D’Agostino & Associates, we help people living with disabling conditions file long-term disability claims. We help you through the process step by step to help you build a strong case. Our law team is here for you.

At D’Agostino & Associates, our team of lawyers can help you sort through all the details, understand what you are entitled to, and fight to get what you deserve. D’Agostino & Associates P.C. has offices in New York and New Jersey. Contact us, or call us at 1-888-245-2924 to schedule a free consultation with our attorneys.

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