If you suffer from a medical condition that results in physical restrictions and limitations, a functional capacity evaluation (also known as an “FCE”) can measure your physical functional ability concerning your specific job duties and essential work functions.  The evaluation should demonstrate the combined effect of all your symptoms.  While functional capacity evaluations are not appropriate or necessary in every case, they can be beneficial in many instances, particularly when you are applying for disability benefits.

What Is the Purpose of a Functional Capacity Evaluation?

A functional capacity evaluation consists of a battery of standardized tests that objectively measure your physical functional abilities.  A functional capacity evaluation may be specifically designed to measure certain medical conditions’ effects compared to specific physical, occupational demands to assess disability status.  Functional capacity evaluation can be used for various other purposes as well, including developing a rehabilitation plan and increasing your ability to perform daily activities.  Functional capacity evaluation can be beneficial when filing a claim for disability benefits because it can help quantify the extent of your limitations and restrictions compared to your specific job duties.  In addition, because the functional capacity evaluation results are based on objective testing, they tend to be given significant weight by disability insurers and the courts.

Who Can Benefit From a Functional Capacity Evaluation?

While a functional capacity evaluation may not be helpful in every case, certain types of medical conditions are best suited for this type of evaluation.  These include spinal and other orthopedic impairments; movement and balance disorders; and other physical conditions that involve pain, weakness, fatigue, numbness, and poor dexterity.

Who Performs a Functional Capacity Evaluation?

Qualified medical professionals should administer functional capacity evaluation.  They are most often performed by occupational therapists or other physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists.  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.

What Will the Functional Capacity Evaluation Entail?

Before attending your functional capacity evaluation, the evaluator will likely review your pertinent medical records, occupational history, and current job demands. At the beginning of the assessment, the therapist or doctor will probably interview you to learn more about your medical history and current diagnoses, symptomatology, and treatment plan. After that, the evaluator will perform testing to measure your physical endurance, strength, range of motion, postural intolerances, balance, and ability to perform fine and gross manipulations. The evaluation will also measure and account for your pain and fatigue levels.  Finally, the functional capacity evaluation will include symptom validity tests to ensure you are putting forth your total effort and confirm the results obtained.

How Long Does It Take To Perform a Functional Capacity Evaluation?

The length of functional capacity evaluation varies. Some functional capacity evaluations last approximately half a day, while others may be a full day. Some functional capacity evaluations are even held over two full days. The length of the assessment depends on your medical condition and the extent and intensity of the testing involved.  The value of a two-day review is that it can measure your sustained functionality over an extended period to show why you cannot meet a regular, full-time work schedule.

How Much Does a Functional Capacity Evaluation Cost?

The cost of a functional capacity evaluation can range based on a variety of factors.  If you are referred for a functional capacity evaluation by your doctor, your insurance may cover it. If insurance coverage is not an option, you may need to pay out-of-pocket for the assessment. In that case, the cost will depend on the facility’s rates and the intensity, complexity, and duration of the evaluation.

If you have additional questions regarding functional capacity evaluation, whether undergoing a functional capacity evaluation would benefit your medical condition, or your insurance company is requesting that you undergo a functional capacity evaluation to support your disability benefits claim, but you are uncertain about it, the experienced benefits attorneys at DeBofsky Sherman Casciari Reynolds P.C. are here to consult with you to provide further guidance.  You must receive the disability benefits you are entitled to, and we are here to help.

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