The Benefits of a Functional Capacity Evaluation Test (FCE)

Functional Capacity Evaluation

A Functional Capacity Evaluation Test (FCE) is a three to four-hour testing process that provides a snapshot of what a person can do at the time. It looks at things like flexibility, strength, endurance, dynamic material handling, repetitive activities and consistency of effort. Basically, it assesses a person’s capability to carry out tasks so the person’s abilities can be matched to job demands.

A quality Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) can be beneficial to all parties. It is imperative for the safety and well-being of both the injured worker and the employer. For the injured worker, it gives them an opportunity to learn their abilities and limitations in a clinical, supervised environment. For the employer, the FCE gives the treating physician the information needed to assign any necessary restrictions at MMI so they can be matched to a position where they can be most productive, creating a safer workplace and making employers less vulnerable to future Workers’ Compensation claims and possible lawsuits due to safety concerns.

When is a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) Needed?

A FCE is needed to determine a person’s ability to work safely. The longer a person has been off work, the more likely they will need a FCE to determine function, due to “deconditioning syndrome.” According to PNBC (, deconditioning syndrome is caused by a prolonged decrease in physical activity due to chronic pain. It is associated with a gradual reduction and change in muscular strength, mobility of joints, and even cardiovascular fitness. Employers can request the doctor send injured workers for an FCE before MMI to avoid any unnecessary delays and prevent significant deconditioning syndrome.

A FCE should also establish sincerity of effort as a part of the testing process. Lack of consistent effort can be measured objectively and without bias, and it may indicate a conscious effort due to secondary gains or a subconscious effort due to pain, fear, or anxiety. Symptom exaggeration, or non-organic signs, require an evaluator with anatomical knowledge and experience. A FCE that determines lack of effort needs to be based on scientific evidence and not subjective reports or observations alone. On the other hand, the same scientific FCE testing process may also provide proof of cooperation and the need for further treatment or permanent restrictions.

The XRTS testing system that is used at Job Ready Services uses cross-referenced lifts, forces, and range of motion testing to validate or invalidate sincerity of effort. Pain behaviors are provided as part of the report, but they are not used to determine sincerity of effort.

Our team at Job Ready Services can help you promote workplace safety, boost workplace productivity and reduce workplace accidents by offering functional work-related testing. Contact the experienced evaluation specialists at (919) 256-1400 to schedule an appointment.