WHAT IS A FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY EVALUATION (FCE)?
A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) determines what physical demand level of work you are capable of doing. It must be ordered by your treating physician. In workers’ compensation, your old job is irrelevant. What matters is how much did you make at the time you were injured and are there jobs in your community paying at least 90% of that amount and within any physical demand limitations determined by the FCE.
For example, if you were making $10 per hour and the FCE determines you can perform medium duty work, the issue then becomes are there medium duty jobs in your community paying $9 per hour (90% of $10 per hour). Yes, I’m sure there are!
The insurance company will then hire a Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant (“Voc Rehab”) who will look for jobs in your community paying that 90% and within any physical demand limitations determined by the FCE. They will then take those job descriptions to your doctor and usually pay him or her to review them. Your doctor will then compare the job description to the FCE results. As much as you hope your doctor will “help you out,” they may not. If the job description is within any physical demand limits determined by the FCE, your doctor will say you are capable of doing that job. They generally have no choice but to approve of jobs within the FCE limitations.
The Adjuster will then stop paying you even though you are still unemployed. Or, if the jobs identified pay less than 90%, they can use that to reduce your weekly check. If they can show you are at the same level of physical ability you were at at the time you were injured, the insurance company will stop paying you. Nonetheless, medical treatment will continue if needed.
People often tell me, “they can’t stop paying me. They didn’t offer me my old job back and I can’t do that type of work anymore.” It doesn’t matter! The issue is what level of physical demand can you do and are their jobs in your community within that physical demand limitation paying at least 90% of what you made at the time of your work-injury.
Physical demand limitations are: sedentary, light, medium, heavy and very heavy. See attached.