When to Get a Functional Capacity Evaluation: Who Needs an FCE?

Functional Capacity Evaluations for Worker’s Compensation

If you are an employer, there may come a time when you need to have a functional capacity evaluation (FCE) performed on one of your employees. This can be a difficult decision, but it is often necessary in order to ensure that the employee is able to safely do their job. In this blog post, we will discuss who needs an FCE and when it is appropriate to have one performed. We will also provide some tips for employers who are considering requesting an FCE for one of their employees. 

What is a functional capacity evaluation (FCE)?  

A functional capacity evaluation is a test used to determine what an employee is physically capable of doing. The results of this test can be used to determine if an employee is able to safely perform their job duties or if they need accommodations to do so.  

FCEs are often used when an employee has been injured and is returning to work, but they can also be used when an employee is having difficulty performing their job duties for other reasons.  

who needs an fce

Who needs an FCE?  

An FCE is typically required when an employee has been injured and is trying to return to work or has reached MMI (maximum medical improvement).  

An employee that has been injured will often need an FCE to objectively determine what their level of ability is in relation to the job that they are returning to.  

  • Individuals who have reached maximum medical improvement and are awaiting impairment rating and case closure. 
  • Workers who need their function quantified prior to returning to work. 
  • Individuals who need quantification of their physical capacities for determination of disability status. 
  • Individuals who require quantification of their physical function for medical-legal reasons. 

When is it appropriate to have an FCE performed on an employee?  

There are a few different times when it may be appropriate for an employer to have an FCE performed on one of their employees.  

If an employee has been injured and is trying to return to work, an FCE can be used to determine if they are able to safely perform their job duties. 

when you need a functional capacity evaluation

Typically, an FCE is performed after all treatment has been completed for the work injury. At this point, an FCE is used to determine what level an employee can return to work and to give an employer an understanding of what accommodations (if any) the employee will need.  

Additionally, if an individual has a long-standing or new medical condition an FCE might be a good idea to determine what that individual can do prior to starting or looking for a job.  

Tips for employers who are considering requesting an FCE 

If you are an employer who is considering requesting an FCE for one of your employees, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.  

First, it is important to make sure that the employee is aware of the purpose of the test and why it is being requested. The employee should also be made aware of the fact that the FCE is voluntary and that they can refuse to participate if they wish.  

It is also important to choose a qualified provider to perform the FCE. The provider should be experienced in performing these types of evaluations and has a good understanding of what the job entails. Look for a provider who has been certified to perform FCEs. 

An FCE can be a valuable tool for employers, case managers, physicians, and insurance agencies for determining the maximum abilities of an individual in worker’s compensation cases. 

Final Thoughts on When to Ask for an FCE 

Functional capacity evaluations can be very helpful in a variety of situations. They can be used to determine if an employee is able to safely perform their job duties, or if they need accommodations to do so.  

At WorkSafe Physical Therapy we provide a research-backed, standardized functional capacity evaluation. This allows you to get objective and repeatable results for every FCE performed.  

Call us today to find out if an FCE from WorkSafe Physical Therapy is the right choice for your client! 

Contact WorkSafe Physical Therapy to find out how we can help your company


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