• What is a Functional Capacity Exam (FCE) & Should I Go to an FCE?
  • Are Functional Capacity Exams (FCE) in Long Term Disability Claims Good or Bad?

What is a Functional Capacity Exam (FCE)? Should I go to a FCE?

A Functional Capacity Exam (FCE) consists of a series of tests that ideally will provide objective evidence of a nexus between your medical condition and your inability to perform your job duties. This applies to whether you can perform the material duties of your own occupation or of any occupation for which you are qualified based on your education, training, and experience.

What is a FCE?

An FCE is not just one test, but a series of tests performed by a certified evaluator. The purpose is to show how your medical condition affects your ability to do your job.

The test consists of evaluation of:

Ideally, the test will reveal how your medical condition interferes with your ability to do your job. One example relates to a postal worker who is expected to walk long distances while carrying a heavy bag of mail. An FCE may be used to determine how the worker’s back injury prevents him or her from performing the material duties of their own occupation since they cannot walk long distances and cannot carry a heavy load.

What Tests Can I Expect at an FCE?

FCE examiners have an arsenal of tests at the ready and will generally administer a series of tests. The tests may be performed over several hours. In some cases, the tests may be administered over two consecutive days. What you will be asked to do depends on your diagnosis and job duties. A list of possible tests includes having you do any or all of the following:

  • Walk on a treadmill
  • Sit
  • Stand
  • Walk normally
  • Crawl
  • Crouch
  • Stoop
  • Kneel
  • Balance
  • Take step exercises
  • Reach
  • Lift weights
  • Test your grip
  • Stack boxes
  • Test hand-eye coordination
  • Undergo dexterity tests
  • Manipulate various objects
  • Push objects
  • Pull objects
  • Take cognitive tests

The examiner records how you perform on each test. The examiner also makes a subjective assessment about the effort you exerted in trying to do the tests. Were you cooperative and tried your best? Did you have problems such as sweating, trembling, nausea? Or, did the examiner conclude you did not put forth any effort and was “faking” pain and inability to perform?

The tests should not hurt. If you are in pain or struggling to do a requested task, inform the examiner.

In addition to these tests, the examiner will ask questions like:

How Can an FCE Help My Disability Claim?

The test seems to be good about connecting medical conditions involving chronic pain, fatigue, Parkinson’s Disease, and multiple sclerosis to the inability to perform material duties of an occupation. The test can relate subjective symptoms, like chronic pain and fatigue, to objective evidence that your are disabled and cannot do the material duties required of your job.

There are times when we have our clients undergo our own FCE to rebut the insurance company’s examiner who says the claimant “didn’t try hard enough.” Other times, we use it to prove the extent of your disability that shows you are unable to perform the material duties of your job.

How Can an FCE Hurt My Disability Claim?

Although the FCE is supposed to be administered by an impartial examiner, if the insurance company selects and pays the examiner, there is always a chance the results are inaccurate. Examiners may report that you did not try hard enough. That you faked pain when you really should not have been having pain. That you said “I can’t do that” when the examiner believed you could.

One example is that there is really no way to show that you cannot sit for six hours out of every eight-hour workday when the test given to you only has you sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

How to be Ready on the Day of the FCE Test?

You may be nervous on the day of the test. That’s normal, but stress can affect how you perform on the tests. Try to get a good night’s sleep the night before and follow these tips that will help you get through the day or days of the testing process.

Call Us Before Agreeing to a FCE

If your disability insurance company’s claims representative asks you to submit to an FCE, we suggest you first call us at Dell & Schaefer to request a free consultation. We will tell you how we can help and give you information that will help you understand why the insurance company requires you to take this test. We have suggestions that will assist you in preparation for the exam, and tips for how to get through the test itself on the day of the exam.

In our experience, of helping thousands of claimants across the country, an FCE can be a double-edged sword. It can be a tool used to prove your medical condition prevents you from doing your job. At times, it can also be used against you if the FCE examiner prepares an adverse report. There are times we work to prove the test results are unreliable.

We always ask that the exam be videotaped. Many FCE examiners refuse to allow this. We press the insurance company to find one who will allow videotaping. If the company is adamant and says it cannot find an examiner who will agree to videotaping, we then suggest that claimants have someone go with them to take notes about the exam.

The reliability of the test depends on what the examiner writes down. There are times when the examiner makes mistakes. For example, we have seen an examiner note that the claimant didn’t try hard enough, or that a claimant was able to perform a task for 15 minutes when the video or witness document the test only lasted 8 or 10 minutes.


To learn more about FCE tests you should visit our category of FCE related questions answered by our lawyers at Q&A – IME, FCE & Insurance Exams and also read the following articles:


You should call one of our lawyers if you have more questions or need assistance with your disability claim. Our attorneys respond to questions daily and we offer a free legal consultation to discuss your claim.

Questions About Hiring Us

Do you work in my state?

Yes. We are a national disability insurance law firm that is available to represent you regardless of where you live in the United States. We have partner lawyers in every state and we have filed lawsuits in most federal courts nationwide. Our disability lawyers represent disability claimants at all stages of a claim for disability insurance benefits. There is nothing that our lawyers have not seen in the disability insurance world.

What are your fees?

Since we represent disability insurance claimants at different stages of a disability insurance claim we offer a variety of different fee options. We understand that claimants living on disability insurance benefits have a limited source of income; therefore we always try to work with the claimant to make our attorney fees as affordable as possible.

The three available fee options are a contingency fee agreement (no attorney fee or cost unless we make a recovery), hourly fee or fixed flat rate.

In every case we provide each client with a written fee agreement detailing the terms and conditions. We always offer a free initial phone consultation and we appreciate the opportunity to work with you in obtaining payment of your disability insurance benefits.

Do I have to come to your office to work with your law firm?

No. For purposes of efficiency and to reduce expenses for our clients we have found that 99% of our clients prefer to communicate via telephone, e-mail, fax, GoToMeeting.com sessions, or Skype. If you prefer an initial in-person meeting please let us know. A disability company will never require you to come to their office and similarly we are set up so that we handle your entire claim without the need for you to come to our office.

How can I contact you?

When you call us during normal business hours you will immediately speak with a disability attorney. We can be reached at 800-682-8331 or by email. Lawyer and staff must return all client calls same day. Client emails are usually replied to within the same business day and seem to be the preferred and most efficient method of communication for most clients.

Dell & Schaefer Client Reviews   *****

Salvatore L. D.C.

From the first contact this office was organized, professional and responsive to all my needs and questions. Following my sudden career threatening injury it was most comforting and assuring as a potential client to feel as if I was dealing with the most experienced and most competent professionals in the industry and in my opinion Dell & Schaefer has provided just that. I find Gregory Dell’s legal representation to date to be excellent in every way.

***** 5 stars based on 202 reviews

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