When you file a claim for disability, you will most likely have to undergo a functional capacity evaluation, or FCE. This evaluation is a series of tests that are designed to see how you perform at specific tasks related to your job. Why is this evaluation so important for those claiming disability?
Having a Disability Vs. Having Functional Limitations
There are plenty of people with impairments who are still able to hold down full time jobs and do everything that someone who is completely healthy can do. Because of this, simply being diagnosed with a disability doesn’t tell the whole story.
What functional capacity evaluations seek to do is determine what kind of work – if any – you are able to do, and whether you might require specific job accommodations in order to do that work. Basically, the tests tell others whether or not you can still work and how well you might be able to work.
How FCEs Diagnose You
Because there are all kinds of jobs out there that require people to do vastly different things, FCEs are designed to look at two separate things:
- If you are still able to handle the duties of your own occupation.
- If you are still able to handle the duties of any occupation.
This means that you will be tested on tasks specific to your job as well as general tasks to determine your overall level of health and ability. FCEs allow evaluators the flexibility of saying that you can perform anywhere from zero (can’t work) to 100 percent (totally fine) at different levels of work – sedentary, light, etc.
So depending on your condition, you may be able to keep working and still receive some benefits, or need to stop and receive full benefits. And you should know that when they say “any occupation,” they still have to match you up with something pertaining to your education and experience.
The Problem with FCEs
ERISA law puts a lot of stock into the results found from FCEs, but they aren’t without problems. First off, there’s no standard test method, so even if you have the same job and condition as another person, you might be evaluated very differently. Second, the evaluator has to judge your effort, which is incredibly subjective.
Talk to an experienced long term disability attorney to make sure you’re prepared for your FCE and read up on disability policies in general in our free eBook so you’re not surprised when something like this comes up.