Your doctor says that she wants you to get a functional capacity evaluation, and the insurance company tells you that it did a job demands analysis. You are feeling overwhelmed by the workers’ compensation process and wonder why your doctor wants yet another evaluation if the insurance company already did one. Remember that the insurance company is not always acting in your best interest. A functional capacity evaluation could be very helpful in keeping your benefits.
A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) looks at your limitations and abilities after your workplace injury. In contrast, a job demands analysis (JDA) looks at which duties are required for the job you held when you were injured. Insurance companies use JDAs to show that workers can return to work. They often push injured workers to return to work before they are fully healed.
The insurance company can compare your JDA to your doctor’s restrictions, tell you that you should be able to do the job, and cut off benefits. Or if the insurer agrees that you cannot perform the job you had when you were injured, it may use the JDA to argue that you could find a similar, less demanding job. Then the insurer will cut off benefits, arguing that you failed to search for and find such a job – when in reality that job may not be available or within your restrictions.
In contrast, FCEs are one of injured workers’ tools to fight back against benefits denials. Your primary treating physician must request an FCE, which may occur if the doctor needs help evaluating your restrictions or is not qualified to assess all your restrictions. During an FCE, a physical therapist or occupational therapist will give you tests to check your physical abilities, such as how much you can safely lift or how well you can pull objects. Which tests you perform may depend on your existing restrictions or doctor’s recommendations.
If the insurance company has denied you benefits, hopefully an FCE will show that your injury led to restrictions preventing you from performing the job. The key is tying the injury to the inability to do the job. An FCE can be a very powerful tool in countering a JDA. Also, the FCE can help clarify your restrictions. Clearer restrictions may help your employer find accommodations so that you can do your old job, or they may help a qualified rehabilitation consultant. QRCs assist injured workers in finding new jobs that are appropriate given their restrictions.
Are you struggling to get benefits and need help countering the insurance company’s arguments? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.