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Functional Capacity Evaluation Specialist

Pamela V. Ford , D.C. -  - Chiropractor

Serenity Chiropractic & Family Wellness Center

Pamela V. Ford , D.C.

Chiropractor located in Carrollton, TX

A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) is a set of tests and observations that, when combined, help determine the patient’s ability to function in a variety of circumstances such as sitting, standing, walking, reaching, bending, squatting, kneeling, lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, etc.

Functional Capacity Evaluation Q & A

Who Can Benefit from an FCE?

  • Someone who has been injured on the job to determine his or her ability to return to the job or alternate work
  • Someone applying for Social Security Disability benefits
  • Someone seeking to return to work or volunteer activities after an injury or illness
  • Someone injured in a catastrophic accident (i.e., automobile accident) for whom an FCE can determine performance skills and abilities related to resuming former employment or a new job


Indications for an FCE

Indications for an FCE may include, but are not limited to, any one or more of the following:

1. Functional testing performed as part of the work rehabilitation process.

2. The individual has been participating in ongoing treatment, to reach conclusions about the individual’s ability to safely participate in work and other life activities during their recovery.

3. The individual has reached maximum rehabilitation potential. The patient may have reached a point where he/she is not making functional gains in treatment. Current physical and/or cognitive abilities are requested to assist with claim closure.

4. The individual is working, but difficulty performing job tasks has been reported or observed. A job specific FCE should clearly identify whether there are gaps between safe functional abilities and job demands.

5. Healthcare provider’s report that there is a discrepancy between the individual’s subjective complaints and objective findings, and the FCE is requested to identify the individual’s level of participation, consistency, and behaviors during the evaluation.

6. Physical and/or cognitive abilities data are needed for case management, disability determination, determination of loss of earning capacity, litigation settlement, or case resolution.

7. Physical and/or cognitive abilities are needed to help with a job-placement decision.

8. Physical and/or cognitive abilities are needed to assist with future rehabilitation or vocational planning

9. The patient displays difficulty returning to full duty employment.

10. Objective functional information may be needed upon which to base future rehabilitation or vocational plans

11. The patient may be physically deconditioned with a resulting decrease in job-related functional abilities.

12. The patient may display a discrepancy between subjective complaints and objective findings.

13. Objective functional information may be needed prior to the determination of loss of earning capacity or litigation resolution

How long is a full FCE test?

An FCE requires up to 2 to 4 hours of patient testing over one or more days and should take place within the context of the demands of competitive employment. The length of the FCE will depend on the following conditions:

1. The complexity of the illness or injury and the residual impairments.

2. The availability of clearly defined, work related physical demands. The word capacity implies potential, which by definition cannot be measured. The FCE measures the ability of the individual to perform functional or work-related tasks and implies or predicts the potential to sustain these work-related tasks over a period of time (i.e. a standard work shift). In some cases, the FCE may be extended beyond 6 hours or two days to further quantify the ability of the patient to sustain the work tasks over a regular work schedule.