Do You Need a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE)?
Sometimes undergoing a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) can help your workers’ compensation case if there is a dispute over the extent of your physical restrictions. Oftentimes the restrictions issued by your treating physician will differ from those issued by the insurance company’s doctor after undergoing an Independent Medical Exam (IME). An FCE can provide clarity and objectively show that an injured worker has physical restrictions. Sometimes a treating physician will refer an injured worker for a FCE and the insurance company will deny the testing.
A Functional Capacity Evaluation is a series of objective tests used to determine an injured workers’ functional limitations. After the evaluation is completed, an injured worker’s treating physician will examine the results of the FCE and then issue permanent restrictions.
The testing can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Testing also generally involves an interview to determine why types of conditions you have both work and non-work related, types of treatment you’ve undergone, type and intensity of symptoms, and how your symptoms impact your daily living activities. Testing includes performing simulated work tasks such as lifting, pushing and pulling, squatting, overhead activities, and other relevant physical activities.
While injured workers are not expected to continue to perform activities that cause him or her pain, the goal is to determine the maximum abilities that he or she is able to perform. So it is important to tell the tester when the activity causes the employee pain and it’s critical not to exaggerate symptoms during testing. The people who administer FCEs are experts and will be able to tell if the injured worker is exaggerating any symptoms. It will hurt your Minnesota workers’ compensation claim if the tester documents that the employee is exaggerating his or her symptoms.
A FCE report will then be created after the employee completes the testing. An FCE report typically lists limitations on weight lifting, bending, twisting, pushing, pulling, kneeling, overhead work, sitting or standing for prolonged periods. The FCE report is often extensive and can provide valuable evidence in a workers’ compensation hearing.
Typically, a Functional Capacity Evaluation takes place after an injured worker reaches Maximum Medical Improvement, also referred to as MMI. A treating physician will determine that an injured employee is at MMI when he or she has reached a plateau in treatment or he or she is as good as he or she is going to get and no new treatment is anticipation or recommended.
Qualified Rehabilitation Consultants (QRCs) may use the results from the Functional Capacity Evaluation to determine suitability of light duty or employment with a new employer. A QRC may then use these permanent restrictions to come up with a plan to get the employee back to work and may even use them to propose a retraining plan, if the restrictions are preventing the employee from re-entering the workforce in a position that pays similar to his or her pre-injury wage.
After receiving the results of a FCE the employer may determine that it cannot accommodate an employee’s permanent restrictions and then may terminate the employee. Separating from a date of injury employer is not always a bad thing and it’s important to consult with an attorney to help with this process. The results from a Functional Capacity Evaluation can help to leverage a workers’ compensation settlement as well. In cases with employees who have PERA or MSRS Duty Disability claims it can provide valuable evidence that the date of injury employer can no longer accommodate the police officer, firefighter, deputy sheriff, corrections officer, or State Trooper’s permanent restrictions.
Don’t wait to get an attorney involved if you have a Minnesota workers’ compensation claim. The process can be complex and you want to be sure you receive the full benefits you are entitled. Contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free no-obligation consultation and extensive claim evaluation. At Meuser Law Office, P.A. we keep our clients informed of the process as well as what to expect each step of the way. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.