Functional Capacity Evaluation Cost
Written by Brian B

Functional Capacity Evaluation Cost

Functional Capacity Evaluation Cost

On average, a Functional Capacity Evaluation costs $845. Prices will range from $772-$871, according to MDsave.

Average Functional Capacity Evaluation Costs

FCE tests are certainly not a cheap process. There are several different FCE test types and pricing options will differ. The United States Social Security Administration recently added two FCE methods, including:

Mental Functional Capacity Evaluation

This is a test in which mental health is assessed. Physical healing ability is essential, yet emotional healing can take much longer. This assessment features many different emotional tasks for the individual.

Physical Functional Capacity Evaluation

This test can be difficult, especially for individuals who have been injured recently. Tests are performed to make sure individuals are fit for day-to-day tasks. There are a number of physical tests, but thankfully you can fully prepare for these ahead of time.

What Is A Functional Capacity Evaluation?

Employers pay workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees. Employees can file a claim for benefits in the case of a job injury or illness, including pay loss benefits and medical benefits, among other things, to cover expenditures while they recuperate.

However, in order to file and process a claim, it is necessary to demonstrate the injury and objectively quantify the severity of the harm. It’s crucial to assess how much an injury or illness affects a worker’s capacity to fulfill their job duties.

Employers and insurers must evaluate whether a person is genuinely ready to return to work — and in what capacity — once he or she has healed and been approved to return to work. Insurers and businesses want to make sure that people don’t return to work too soon, putting themselves and others at risk. Some of these difficulties are addressed by a functional capacity evaluation (FCE) for workers’ compensation.

A functional capacity evaluation, in essence, aids in the assessment of damage or disability. A disability or damage can be visible at times. Determining how badly someone is hurt and how much their injury impacts their ability to work, on the other hand, is more difficult. An FCE is a professional who works to define injuries and professionally evaluate the level of ability in a systematic manner, which is often required to determine the appropriate amount of benefits. Instead of just designating all wounded workers as “incapable” or “damaged,” a functional capacity evaluation examines each worker individually to identify the best course of action.

What Is A Functional Capacity Evaluation Test?

An attorney, an insurance carrier supplying workers’ compensation coverage, or your employer may order an FCE. The FCE is a set of examinations that assesses your physical ability in relation to your job. An evaluator certified to conduct these examinations will always administer the tests in an FCE.

A functional capacity evaluation is intended to be both safe and objective in its assessment of an accident or sickness. The tests that make up an FCE will assess a worker’s ability to:

  • Motion-capacity
  • Physical stamina
  • Capacity to lift
  • Flexibility
  • The ability to carry goods and maintain stamina
  • Other skills essential for their position

If you have a handicap or illness, a functional capacity evaluation might help you evaluate if you can return to work. If you are able to return to work, an FCE can help you assess if you need to return to work in a limited capacity or whether you need to make special accommodations.

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What Is A Functional Capacity Evaluation?

Three million workers were wounded or were ill as a result of their work tasks in 2014. Moreover, 4,679 workers were murdered in work-related accidents. Because the consequences of a worker's disability or death are so severe, countries introduced workers' compensation systems in the 1970s. Employers pay workers' compensation insurance to cover their employees. Employees [...]

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Written by webtechs

The Importance of Clinically Correlating Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) Findings

In Chapter 16 of Guide to the Evaluation of Functional Ability, Genovese & Galper 2009, the chapter authors clearly make the case that a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) is a clinical evaluation used to answer questions about an evaluee’s abilities (and limitations) relative to a medical condition(s). Moreover, because the FCE is a clinical evaluation, it needs to be performed by a qualified health care provider.

The discussion points out however, that many FCE evaluators do not produce reports that clinically correlate medical findings (found during the FCE or from review of medical records) with the functional findings of the FCE. In fact, the authors point out that reports they have reviewed provide evidence that some evaluators believe:

  • An FCE is a “plug and chug” totally objective process, and that all the clinician has to do is gather data and input it into their computer program;
  • The protocols are stand-alone and that the scoring procedures allow an evaluee’s physical abilities to be determined independent of any clinical judgment;
  • The evaluator’s role is more technical than clinical, simply observing performance and recording results.

These points could not be further from the truth. Clinical judgment within the functional testing process is not only a positive, it is a must in order for the FCE findings to be meaningful and useful.

Some FCE systems boast that their systems use “distraction-based” testing that is intended to investigate the issue of validity of effort and are entirely focused on objectively determining non-cooperative and poor effort in a legally-defensible way. These systems miss the point of why FCEs should be used.

The FCE as a clinical evaluation performed by a qualified health care professional will identify:

  1. Are there activities the evaluee cannot do or should not do because of an underlying health condition;
  2. Are there activities that might worsen the condition, delay or interfere with the recovery;
  3. Are their activities that may put the evaluee or others at risk if performed by the evaluee.

As the authors so eloquently point out, a skilled FCE evaluator must demonstrate that the underlying health condition has an effect on the evaluee’s functional performance, or visa versa.

It is for these reasons that the FCE can only be properly performed by professionals knowledgeable in anatomy, physiology, pathology, kinesiology; have skills in clinical and functional evaluation methods; and are able to draw conclusions by considering the evaluee’s injury or illness in the context of all the other findings.

Clinical judgement based on solid testing protocols and scoring procedures is the gold standard for determining an evaluee’s function.

Sandy Goldstein, PT, CDMS is a physical abilities measurement specialist, and performs functional testing for SSDI, STD, LTD, PI, WC, Pre-Vocational Planning as well as return-to-work transitions. He can be reached at or 480-285-6212

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Doctors Who SWAG – The Harmful Impact of Guessing for Disability & Workers’ Compensation Patients

For many worker’s compensation or disability patients, their primary care doctor is the go-to to treat and diagnose their injuries. However, few family physicians are trained to determine a patient’s ability to work – despite being asked to do so repeatedly.

Too often, I’ve heard stories of doctors who SWAGGED (took a scientific wild a** guess) at a patient’s capacity for work without testing. While this SWAG is based on the doctor’s knowledge of the patient’s injuries, guessing at function without testing to confirm it is akin to throwing out a broken lamp without first testing the light bulb to ensure it’s working. And it can have devastating consequences for patients.

Over the years, I’ve done thousands of Functional Capacity Evaluations, or FCEs, but there’s one in particular that I’ll never forget.

Meet Bob, a Plumber

Bob was a 50-something male who had suffered a compression fracture of his thoracic spine eight years prior. If you’re not familiar with the term, a compression fracture is when a bone in the spine fractures or dissolves. This is a common injury caused by falls or other traumatic injuries.

In Bob’s case, the damage was to the thoracic area, located in the middle of the spine. After surgery and extensive physical rehabilitation, he was declared maximum medically improved with permanent restrictions.

The problem here is that Bob was never tested; rather his physician gave him a note stating he should not lift more than 20 lbs. The note had no timeline or follow up scheduled. Bob literally folded up the note, placed it in his wallet, and ceased working as a plumber – his career of nearly 25 years.

For the subsequent eight years, Bob worked as a cashier. By the time he came to me, Bob was barely able to keep afloat and was basically starving. He’d just applied for SSDI and vocational assistance and needed to be evaluated as part of his claim.

The Functional Test Yielded Surprising Results

The functional testing revealed that Bob could safely lift 50 lbs. Based on a reasonable degree of medical and ergonomic certainty, the testing showed that he could have likely worked as a plumber all along.

This is a stark lesson to all medical, vocational, and human resources professionals. The advantages of going the extra step and using objective functional testing to assess function and fitness-for-duty cannot be overstated.

In Bob’s case, a referral for an FCE could have circumvented years of missed wages and distress.

Research supports that job-specific testing is superior to functional estimates by a physician.

The well-known research study Comparing self-report, clinical examination and functional testing in the assessment of work-related limitations in patients with chronic low back pain (Brouwer et al., 2009) showed the importance of functional testing. Researchers concluded that the limitations derived from physicians’ clinical examination were higher than those derived from Functional Capacity Evaluation.

With our clients’ lives and livelihoods at risk, I strongly advocate objective functional and fitness-for-duty testing. Not because it is my line of work; it’s simply the right thing to do. Ethically and legally, we medical, vocational and human resources professionals owe it to our clients to not cut corners when assessing function and fitness-for-duty.

When objective testing is performed, the results provide evidence-based information on which stakeholders can rely to place a worker into a specific job, or at least, to specific job tasks.



Brouwer, S., Dijkstra, P. U., Stewart, R. E., Göeken, L. N., Groothhoff, J. W., & Geertzen, J. H. (2009, 7). Comparing self-report, clinical examination and functional testing in the assessment of work-related limitations in patients with chronic low back pain. Retrieved from Northern Centre for Health Care Research, University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands website:

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