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What Should I Expect at My Functional Capacity Evaluation?

Disability Wiki.

A Functional Capacity Evaluation (“FCE”) involves a battery of objective of tests, practices, and observations to evaluate your physical ability to function in different areas.  The final report can help demonstrate the aggregate impact of your symptoms on your ability to perform essential work functions.

Is a Functional Capacity Evaluation right for my claim?

The evaluation is best suited for individuals who suffer from physical conditions causing abnormal movements, limited movement, muscle weakness, difficulty positioning, balance issues, numbness/tingling, pain, poor dexterity/gross movements, and/or fatigue with physical activities.  It irrelevant whether your disability is due to an injury or illness.  Most FCE evaluations are not designed to measure the impact of visual impairments, hearing problems, or mental/cognitive issues.

Who performs the Functional Capacity Evaluation?

A trained medical professional, such as an occupational therapist or a physician specializing in rehabilitative occupational medicine, will perform the functional capacity evaluation.

How long will the evaluation take?

The length of the functional capacity evaluation may vary.  Some evaluations are performed over the course of two days, while others are performed in just one day.  For each day scheduled, you should be prepared for the evaluation to last the full day, unless instructed otherwise.

What are the benefits of having a two-day evaluation?

An FCE  that is performed over the course of two days, rather than one, helps measure whether your limitations increase when performing certain work functions on a more sustained basis.  Notably, this can help demonstrate how your ability to function decreases with activity, thus helping the insurer understand why you cannot sustain a normal work schedule (e.g., consecutive workdays).

What should I wear?

The evaluation will involve physical tests, so you should wear comfortable clothing (e.g., sneakers, sweatshirt, casual pants, etc.).  You should also dress in layers so that you can remain as comfortable as possible throughout the testing.

Do I need to bring anything with me?

Be sure to bring your medications and any assistive devices that you may need (i.e., eye glasses, brace, cane, etc.).  If you have an attorney, your attorney should provide your medical records and information about your occupational background directly to the evaluator.

Will the evaluator know anything about me?

If you have an attorney, the evaluator already should be aware of your occupation, general work background, diagnosis, treatment, and date of disability.

Will the evaluator ask me questions about my disability?

Yes.  The evaluator will likely ask questions to get a better sense of your diagnosis, symptoms, and complaints.  The more information that the evaluator has, the more comprehensive the functional capacity evaluation report will be.

What tests will the evaluator perform?

The evaluator will perform testing to measure your physical strength, postural intolerances, balance, level of fatigue, range of motion, ability to lift/carry, ability to sit/stand/walk, ability to perform fine and gross manipulations, and more.  She will ask you to perform these tests by using various machines, tools, and maneuvers.  The evaluator will perform many of the same tests on the second day to measure any decrease in functioning.

What sort of observations will the evaluator make about me?

First, the evaluator will make observations throughout testing to ensure that you are consistently putting forth maximum effort.  Second, the evaluator will observe your pain behavior and quality of movements to make conclusions about the reliability of testing results.  Lastly, the evaluator will record these observations to indicate the reliability of the testing results.

What if my symptoms worsen during testing?

Tell the evaluator immediately and await further instruction.  This is very important for safety purposes and accurate testing.  The evaluator will record which activities caused an increase in your symptoms.  The evaluator also stop testing or omit certain tests if they are unsafe to perform.

What happens if I become tired during testing?

The testing requires you to exert yourself to your maximum capacity, so it is not uncommon to become tired.   If you before very tired, simply tell the evaluator and await further instruction.  Again, this is very important for safety purposes and accurate testing.  The evaluator will record which activities caused an increase in your fatigue.  The evaluator may stop testing or omit certain tests if they are unsafe to perform.

Can I take breaks?

The evaluator will allow you to take breaks to eat meals and use the restroom.  If you require additional breaks, simply tell the instructor.

What if I can’t perform or finish a test?

Tell the evaluator immediately and await further instruction.  You should never complete any tests that will jeopardize your health and/or safety.  The evaluator will simply omit tests that you cannot perform.  The report will note that you were physically unable to perform or finish the test.  Your inability to complete a test will not damage the reliability of the report at all.

What if I’m exhausted or in a lot of pain after the first day of testing?

Tell the evaluator when you return on the second day.  The evaluator will record your reaction, including pain and exhaustion, following the first day of testing.

Should I arrange for someone to drive me to and from the evaluation?

Consider arranging for a ride.  Many people experience a temporary increase in symptoms following the evaluation.  Therefore, it may be difficult for you to drive home.

Can I have a FCE if I’m recovering for surgery or currently undergoing rehabilitative therapy?

Probably not.  Communicate these circumstances to your FCE provider before scheduling your appointment(s).

How can a long term disability attorney help?

There are 5 important ways that an experienced long term disability attorney can help.

First, your attorney can help identify whether an FCE may be helpful for your claim.  Depending on your particular symptoms and the stage of your claim, your attorney can anticipate whether the insurance company will want to see FCE results and make the recommendation accordingly.

Second, your attorney will recommend which tests should be performed at your FCE.  This will ensure that the results fully demonstrate your disability and limitations to the extent possible.

Third, your attorney’s office will provide the evaluator with all necessary background information and medical records before your scheduled evaluation.  This will help ensure that the evaluator is familiar with your diagnosis and symptoms before testing begins.

Fourth, your long term disability attorney will be able to review the FCE report to identify any inconsistencies and inaccuracies that may require correction by an addendum.

Fifth, your attorney will interpret the report to assess whether it is supportive of your long term disability claim.  If the report is supportive, your attorney may help highlight the most favorable portions for the insurance company’s review.  If the report is unsupportive, your attorney may recommend additional testing and/or comments from your physicians.

The attorneys and staff and Riemer Hess are well-versed in Functional Capacity Evaluations.  Contact an attorney at Riemer Hess today to discuss how a Functional Capacity Evaluation may help your long term disability claim.

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