Should you agree to a functional capacity evaluation?

If you are a workers’ compensation claimant who is reaching the point of maximum medical improvement, the insurance company may ask you to submit to a functional capacity evaluation (FCE). An FCE is a series of tests that measure a person’s physical capacities and functional abilities.

Determining whether to submit to an FCE is a very important decision. The results of the evaluation could affect your disability rating, and the amount of the benefits you receive,  or the lump sum settlement you are offered. It could even affect your ability to obtain future employment in your chosen occupation.

In this blog post, we will explain some important aspects of these evaluations and provide some advice for workers who have been asked to submit to an FCE.

What is a functional capacity evaluation?

A functional capacity evaluation consists of a series of physical tests. It usually takes several hours to perform, but at least one FCE administrator in Denver prefers a three-day evaluation totaling 13 hours. An FCE is usually administered at a physical therapy clinic, and there are a large number of such clinics in the Denver area who administer FCEs.

Ideally, the FCE should be tailored to simulate the specific job duties of the person being evaluated, though this may not always be the case. Usually, an FCE covers these assessment areas:

  • Lifting abilities
  • Positional tolerances
  • Level of effort
  • Manual speed and dexterity

Some FCEs can include a musculoskeletal screen, a work simulation, and evaluations of cognitive abilities, emotional status, and cardiovascular tolerance. A person who submits to an FCE can refuse to perform any test he or she is asked to do. However, that refusal will be noted in the report prepared by the administrator, along with the subject’s exact words. The insurance company and your employer will carefully examine the results of your FCE, as well as any of your comments that are included in the report.

Should you submit to an FCE? Or decline?

Under Colorado law, you are not required to submit to an FCE. However, your employer may require you to submit to it as a condition of continued employment. Considering the long-lasting effects an evaluation can have on your earning capacity, you should take time understand the stakes involved. It may be in your best interest to submit to the FCE, or you may be better off declining.

A workers’ compensation attorney can review your situation, answer your questions, and advise you concerning your best course of action.

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