| Read Time: 3 minutes | Workers Compensation Law
Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) in Workers’ Comp Cases

If you are injured at work, you will quickly become familiar with the different exams and evaluations likely required to return to work, including the functional capacity evaluation (FCE).

Once an FCE is ordered, it typically means you are nearing the end of your treatment.

In other words, your doctor is ready to give the okay for you to head back to work, with or without restrictions.

At EMP Law, our Charlotte and Winston-Salem workers’ comp FCE attorneys can assist you through the process. 

Call (336) 724-2828 or send us an online message today for a consultation.

What Is a Functional Capacity Evaluation?

A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) is a comprehensive medical assessment of a person’s work-related physical abilities. Its purpose is to determine your safe, functional tolerances.

Employers, insurers, and workers alike do not want employees to return to work before they can safely do so. 

The FCE in workers’ comp usually consists of a medical assessment and a series of tests to determine the injured worker’s capabilities and restrictions. 

These tests may include a variety of physical performances and tests including but not limited to the following:

  • Range of motion,
  • Physical strength,
  • Flexibility, 
  • Lifting ability,
  • Stamina, and
  • Ability to carry objects.

The evaluation will also test for any other required ability for your job duties.

The bulk of the FCE usually consists of a series of tests. 

You may be asked to complete the following tasks:

  • Walk on a treadmill,
  • Handle or manipulate objects,
  • Move certain body parts,
  • Pull or push,
  • Sit,
  • Test your grip,
  • Balance,
  • Hand-eye coordination tasks,
  • Crouch,
  • Lift weights, and
  • Kneel.

Importantly, this list is not all-inclusive, and you may undergo other exercises or tasks.

In addition to the physical indicators, the evaluator will ask you several questions about the injury, pain, and activities affected by your symptoms. The physician will generate an FCE report for your workers’ comp claim.

It is always best to complete your FCE test to the best of your ability. These tests are designed to determine what you are capable of. And they can show on the report if you were faking or not giving your best effort.

We recommend completing the test to the best of your ability and communicating how you feel with the physician throughout the testing.

What Happens After an FCE Evaluation?

After your FCE, the results are compiled into a report and provided to your doctor.

You will then meet with your doctor to review your results and discuss how you felt mentally and physically during the evaluation. It allows your doctor to understand better how your body responded to the FCE. 

FCE and Restrictive Duty

An FCE can also match an injured worker’s ability to their job demands. Each FCE is usually tailored in some capacity for the specific injury and the specific job title the employee has. One of the primary roles of the workers’ comp FCE is to determine how well a worker’s current abilities match the demands of their job.

For instance, if a floor installer needs to kneel and hunch over for long periods as part of their job, a functional capacity evaluation may involve testing their ability to kneel on hard surfaces or hunch over if they have suffered a knee or back injury.

If the evaluation results show the worker cannot do so, then they may not be able to return to the same role as an installer. However, they might be able to handle a desk job at the company instead. Each situation is fact specific and will depend on the injury, job duties, and employer’s ability to relocate the worker to another role if necessary.


Who Can Order an FCE?

The FCE is usually ordered by the North Carolina employer or insurance company. However, the injured worker or their attorney can also request a functional capacity evaluation at any time.

Is a Settlement in Workers Comp Determined by an FCE?

While not the sole factor influencing your workers’ comp FCE settlement, it is used to help determine the value of your workers’ comp case.

Contact Our North Carolina FCE Workers’ Comp Attorneys

Whether you were recently injured at work or are coming to the conclusion of your workers’ comp case, we can help. FCEs can feel intimidating, but with an experienced advocate, you will be calm, capable, and prepared.

At EMP Law, we give every client a zealous presentation to get them the maximum benefits under the law. With a combined 140 years of experience, we are the right choice. Contact us online or call (336) 724-2828 today to schedule a consultation at a time convenient to you. 

Author Photo

Griff is dedicated to assisting individuals who need assistance with workers' compensation issues, who are the victims of discrimination, or who have suffered a serious injury. He practices primarily in the areas of workers’ compensation, employment, civil rights, and mediation.

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