A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) is a comprehensive evaluation of an individual’s physical and functional abilities, which is often conducted as part of the process for filing a long-term disability (LTD) claim.
What Is the Purpose of a Functional Capacity Evaluation?
A Functional Capacity Evaluation is designed to assess the individual’s physical limitations, endurance, and functional abilities related to their work or occupation. In short, an FCE is administered to determine the claimant’s residual functional capacity.
The evaluation can prove useful when applying for disability benefits as it provides a quantification of the extent of your limitations and restrictions in comparison to the duties of your particular job. Moreover, since the evaluation’s results are based on objective testing, they tend to be highly regarded by disability insurers and the courts.
What Happens During a Functional Capacity Evaluation?
During the FCE, the individual may be asked to perform a range of physical tasks and activities that are relevant to their job, such as lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling. The healthcare professional may also assess the individual’s ability to sit, stand, walk, and perform other work-related tasks.
Who Performs a Functional Capacity Evaluation?
The FCE is typically administered by a licensed healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or physician.
Even if your doctor or physical therapist does not fulfill these types of evaluations, they can likely refer you to a therapist that does. If not, physical therapy companies and other vendors can arrange for a functional capacity evaluation designed to assess your specific medical condition and occupational demands.
Who May Benefit From a Functional Capacity Evaluation?
A functional capacity evaluation may not be advantageous in every situation, but it can be particularly useful for specific medical conditions. These may include spinal and orthopedic impairments, movement and balance disorders, and physical conditions involving symptoms such as pain, weakness, fatigue, numbness, and poor dexterity.
What is Involved in a Functional Capacity Evaluation?
Before your functional capacity evaluation, the evaluator will typically review your relevant medical records, work history, and job requirements. At the start of the assessment, the doctor or therapist may conduct an interview to obtain further information on your medical background, current diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment regimen. Subsequently, the evaluator will administer tests to gauge your physical endurance, strength, range of motion, postural tolerance, balance, and ability to perform fine and gross manipulations. The evaluation will also account for your pain and fatigue levels. Finally, the functional capacity evaluation will incorporate symptom validity tests to ensure that you are exerting your maximum effort and to verify the accuracy of the results.
How Long Does a Functional Capacity Evaluation Take?
The duration of a functional capacity evaluation can vary depending on the complexity of your medical condition and the extent of testing required. Some evaluations may last half a day, while others may require a full day or even two days. The length of the assessment is determined based on the level of intensity and extent of testing involved. A two-day evaluation can be particularly useful as it can measure your sustained functionality over an extended period and demonstrate why you may be unable to meet the demands of a regular, full-time work schedule.
How Much Does an FCE Cost?
The cost of a functional capacity evaluation can vary depending on various factors. If your doctor refers you for the evaluation, your insurance may cover the cost. However, if insurance coverage is not an option, you may need to pay out-of-pocket for the assessment. The cost will depend on the rates of the facility conducting the evaluation, as well as the duration, complexity, and intensity of the assessment.
The results of the FCE can be used by insurance companies to determine the individual’s level of functional impairment, and whether they are able to perform the essential duties of their job. This information can be important in determining eligibility for LTD insurance benefits, as well as the amount of benefits that may be awarded.
If you have any further inquiries about a functional capacity evaluation, such as whether an FCE would be helpful in your LTD claim, you can contact the Ortiz Law Firm.