THE FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY EVALUATION IN GEORGIA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CASES

Georgia Workers’ Compensation Blog, September 2016
Nathan E. Woody, CORALES & WOODY, LLC

The Functional Capacity Evaluation in Georgia Workers’ Compensation Cases

A Functional Capacity Evaluation or “FCE” is a medical evaluation used to determine an individual’s physical limitations relative to work performance. In some workers’ compensation claims, a FCE is used to make an accurate determination of the injured worker’s tolerance with regards to the strength and physical demand requirements as provided in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. It is usually done before your workers’ compensation claim can be resolved.

The FCE is typically completed toward the end of treatment for your work injury and will frequently consist of a physical test and a questionnaire. The questionnaire will ask you detailed questions about your pain. The physical assessment will require you to complete tasks such as sitting, stooping, lifting, standing, bending, and other movements that are required by your job. Throughout the tasks you will be asked about your pain level. Once an FCE is completed, it will be used by your treating physician, insurer, and employer to determine whether you can return to work after an injury and/or if there is another job that meets your limitations.

In terms of the strength of your case, there are pros and cons to completing a FCE:

Pros:

  • It allows you and your employer to determine your abilities and limitations in a controlled environment.
  • The professional completing the FCE can ensure that you are knowledgeable about the safest way to bend, lift, stand, etc. during work.
  • If the FCE shows you are not ready to go back to work, it will help in ensuring you receive lost wage payments until you are ready.

Cons:

  • Completing the assessment itself can be exhausting and may cause an increase in your symptoms during the evaluation.
  • Pain varies from person to person. Pain level does not always determine whether you can return to work.
  • The assessment is not always effective in determining whether you will be able to perform your job over an extended period of time.
  • Often, so called “Validity Tests” are built in to certain exercises or tests to assess whether someone is “faking.” Of course, these tests can often be misleading and are used by the Insurance Company to undermine your case.

Obviously, there are a lot of issues to consider regarding the FCE and its potential impact on your case. Consequently, if a Function Capacity Evaluation is ordered in your Georgia Workers’ Compensation claim, please call Corales & Woody immediately to schedule a free consultation to review your case and discuss your options.

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