If you’ve been injured on the job in Pennsylvania and seek to collect workers’ compensation benefits, you may have to take a functional capacity exam (FCE). This test is designed to tell the insurance company and your employer whether you can perform the tasks associated with your job. It’s not an examination you can prepare or study for, but a test of your physical capabilities. Many people want to know more about FCE before they take it and how it can affect a workers’ compensation claim — here’s everything you need to know.

    What Is an FCE?

    The FCE assesses what physical activities you can and cannot do. It also measures how hard you tried to do them. Companies often use the test to see if you’re ready to return to work or if you should return to work in a diminished capacity.

    Doctors often suggest temporary or permanent restrictions on what a worker can do following a serious injury, which may involve surgery or rehab. Your doctor, the insurance company, your employer or your lawyer may request an FCE. This test is meant to be an independent, unbiased assessment of your capabilities. Most FCEs include some or all of the following tasks:

    • Lifting
    • Grip testing
    • Dexterity ability
    • Treadmill testing
    • Step exercises

    These steps are meant to determine whether your stamina, range of motion, strength and tolerance for carrying have returned following your injury. The test, usually conducted by a physician or physical therapist, lasts several hours, and you should wear comfortable clothing that you can move about in easily. Your doctor may want to place restrictions on what tasks you can do when you return to work based on what you can and can’t do during the FCE.

    The physical tasks constitute half of the assessment. The other half is called validity testing. The person conducting the test will take notes on your effort level as well as your capability of completing the task. They’ll say whether you seemed like you were really trying or if you were exaggerating symptoms. For instance, if you grimace while lifting something overhead, they may note it and might feel that extreme facial grimacing is an exaggeration.

    How Will an FCE Impact Your PA Workers’ Compensation Case?

    Insurance companies may use the results of the validity test to convince your doctor or a workers’ compensation Judge that you can work and should not receive workers’ compensation. They may point to a lack of perceived effort as one reason, which is why it’s critical for you to offer your best try when you take the test. Still, you don’t want to strain yourself beyond what’s comfortable after your injury.

    The FCE will become a part of the permanent record in your case and may be referenced by either side moving on. You should consult with your lawyer before the FCE to ensure you understand the process and what the results could mean for you and your case.

    Contact Frommer D’Amico to schedule a free consultation for your workers’ compensation case in PA. We can travel to you for meetings, and we charge low fees. We have the experience you need since we take only PA workers’ comp cases. Get in touch online or call us at 717-400-1000 to learn more or get started.


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