FCE Test: What is It and What Does it Mean for Workers’ Compensation Case?

FCE Test: What is It and What Does it Mean for Workers’ Compensation Case?


What is FCE Test and What Does it Mean for Workers’ Compensation Case? You might be asking – what is FCE? Well, FCE is an abbreviation of Functional Capacity Evaluation. This is a medical assessment conducted to ascertain an individual’s ability to function optimally in a workplace.

Functional capacity evaluation workers compensation

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FCE Test: What is It and What Does it Mean for Workers’ Compensation Case?

When you’re are about to file for a workers’ compensation claim, there are so many things you need to be aware of at all times (one of them is your physical and mental wellbeing). Apart from sound health, you also may have psychological problems as a result of financial burdens, medical expenses, job pressure, and family stress. One area many people often struggle with is the legal element of a workers’ compensation claim. The process tedious, and arduous, and time-consuming, with one of the capstones being the FCE. So, FCE: What is it and what does this evaluation mean for my workers’ compensation case?

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What Is an FCE Test?

FCE medical abbreviation is a functional capacity evaluation taken by the injured employee in a workers’ compensation case. This evaluation is typically ordered by the physician who is seeing the patient. An FCE could also be ordered by an insurance adjuster, lawyer, or employer. Here are a few things you should know before completing an FCE test, as well as what happens if you have failed an FCE test.

As earlier explained, FCE stands for Functional Capacity Evaluation, which is a comprehensive medical assessment of an individual’s safe functional tolerances and physical limitations relative to work activities. This medical assessment usually made up of a series of tests to determine the capabilities of injured workers and restrictions. These tests may include a variety of physical performance analysis points including:

  • range of motion,
  • physical strength,
  • lifting ability to flexibility,
  • stamina,
  • and your ability to carry objects.

When is FCE Administered?

Once an FCE has been ordered, it usually means you are coming to an end of your treatment and the doctor is ready to send you back to work, with or without, restrictions depending on the FCE report. It’s in your best interest to try to complete each test to the best of your ability.

The tests you undergo during a FCE are not only designed to determine what you are capable or restricted to do, but it’s also designed to show on the report if you were faking or not giving your best effort on any of the test as well.

In the end, there is no “beating” an FCE so we tell our clients to do their very best and be vocal with the physician on how you are feeling during the testing.

After the FCE has been completed and the report has been provided to the treating physician, the doctor will review the FCE report with you. During this appointment with the doctor, it is important to express how you felt during, immediately after, and days after the testing. This will allow the doctor to get an understanding of how your body reacted long after the FCE was completed. Depending on the results, the doctor may write you back to work full duty, back to work with permanent restrictions, or back to work with restrictions for a short period of time.

Being ordered to complete an FCE can be a scary idea to injured workers, especially injured workers who are not being represented by an attorney to explain the process. If you have not hired an attorney at this point, we would suggest you look into doing so. As mentioned before, having an FCE be ordered usually means that your claim is coming to an end and settlement discussions will be in the near future.  Having an attorney on your side during this process can help take the stress of the workers’ compensation system off of your shoulders and allow you to finish recovering.


Why Do I Need to Do an FCE Test?

If you have been injured on the job and have needed physical therapy in order to heal, you may need to complete an FCE test. An FCE test evaluates your physical abilities to see if there might be any limitations to you being able to perform the job you had before your injury. From the results of the test, your physician, or the healthcare professional evaluating you, can determine whether you can end physical therapy completely and go back to work. Depending on how you do on your FCE test, you might have permanent restrictions on work performance.

Functional capacity evaluation sample

An FCE test happens at a medical facility, such as a physical therapy center, and will be completed by a certified healthcare provider. This could be a physical therapist, a physician, or even an athletic trainer. The test normally takes about two to three hours. During the test, the physician will test a number of elements of your physical strength necessary to perform your job, including the following:

  • Pulling, pushing, lifting, and carrying materials
  • Squatting, walking, kneeling, reaching, standing, balancing, crawling, bending, sitting
  • Measuring your muscle strength and range of motion in the areas affected by your injuries

What to Know Before Taking Your FCE Test

  • Always act as though you are being observed. Your doctor is evaluating you to make sure your workers’ compensation claims are accurate, so you should always honestly display your symptoms display your symptoms. If you claim that you cannot walk without limping but then take painkillers to be able to walk briskly into the doctor’s office, your claim might be in trouble.
  • Be honest during the examination. Part of the results of your examination have to do with whether the examiner believes you were making an honest effort during your test. They specifically look for signs that you are exaggerating your pain levels.
  • Avoid taking pain medication before the exam. Pain medication helps you function even when you’re dealing with debilitating injuries. However, even over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen and ibuprofen could minimize the effects of your injury, and make the examiner think you feel better than you actually do.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing. The examination requires that you perform physical tasks for a couple hours, so make sure you’re wearing clothes that won’t prevent you from moving freely.

Functional capacity evaluation cost

The FCE is not a cheap process and many facilities conduct the tests in-house. Participants have to pay anywhere between $500 – $2000 and you should not be surprised by the independent tests.

How to beat a functional capacity evaluation

Once the test is over, your results will be compiled by the examination team and sent to your doctor. They then have the ability to approve the results and the recommendations for working restrictions. Be sure to review these restrictions thoroughly to understand exactly what is expected of you when you return back to work. If there’s anything you’re unsure about, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor.

You might think you’ve “failed” your FCE test if the examiner determines that you are unable to perform tasks essential to the work you did before your injury. The examination report might have such stringent restrictions that you won’t be able to go back to work at all, and will have to file for total disability. But even if you’ve received results like this, your case isn’t over. You still have the option to appeal the examination results. This might mean that you need to take the examination all over again.

An FCE test is typically completed at the end of the physical therapy process. However, it could also be completed at any time that the patient is ordered to be released from care. An injured employee could also take an FCE test if they have not completed any physical therapy at all.


Remember: your employer & their insurance company will have legal representation, so it is crucial that you do as well.

More Terms to Understand

MMI Medical Abbreviation

The term “Maximum medical improvement”, or “MMI“, is used under workers’ compensation law to describe that point in an injured worker’s healing process when they are not expected to further improve with generally accepted medical treatment.


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Author: Simon RobertEasyInfoBlog is a multi-author blog. We have experts and professionals in various fields who share their ideas and expert knowledge to help you with your daily information needs. Thanks for reading!

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