Functional Capacity Evaluations and When You Need Them

Toward the end of your workers’ compensation case, you may be asked to undergo a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE). Before agreeing to do so, make sure you speak with your attorney and fully understand the pros and cons of undergoing an FCE. Here is a brief overview of FCEs and when it might be beneficial for you to submit to an FCE.

What Is a Functional Capacity Evaluation?

A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) is a series of tests prescribed by a doctor to evaluate your physical capabilities as they pertain to your work duties. These tests typically range from two to four hours and test a variety of physical skills, such as lifting, flexibility, endurance, strength, the range of motion, and any other skills required for your job. The goal of an FCE is to determine what your physical abilities are, whether you’re able to return to work, and which tasks you’re able to take on when you do return to work. You are expected to put in your best effort during an FCE so that the doctor can get a clear picture of your capabilities.

Pros and Cons of Undergoing a Functional Capacity Evaluation


The biggest pro to undergoing an FCE is that it provides a professional analysis of your physical abilities in a controlled setting. This lets both you and your employer know what your capabilities and limitations are at work to ensure a smooth transition back to work. On the flip side, if the tests determine you are not ready to go back to work, then having this professional analysis can help ensure that you continue receiving payments for lost wages while you stay at home and continue to heal.

From a recovery standpoint, an FCE can be a great way to learn how to perform work-related tasks and day to day tasks in a safe manner. For example, your doctor will explain to you in an FCE the best way to lift objects so as not to injure your back.


Even though FCEs are designed to be safe, if your physical ability level is not up to par with the exercises required of you, there is a chance that attempting to perform the tests given to you in your FCE may exacerbate your injuries and delay your healing process.

There is also some concern with regard to the accuracy of results. Since FCEs are typically conducted over the span of only a few hours, they are not necessarily the best indicator of whether you will be able to perform certain work duties over the course of an extended period of time. Additionally, your doctor may ask you for the level of pain you experienced during various tasks, but since pain levels vary from person to person, this may not be the best indicator of your physical ability level or readiness to return to work.

If you’re not sure whether an FCE is necessary in your case, call us at 404-259-7635 or visit our website today to get your questions answered for free.
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