A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) evaluates an individual’s capacity to perform work activities related to his or her participation in employment. The FCE press compares the individual’s heath states, and body functions and structures to the demands of the job and the work environment An FCE;s primary purpose is to evaluative a person’s ability to participates in work. Traditionally, FCE’s measured an individual’s ability to perform the physical demands of a job, but over the last decade many FCE batteries have begun to include evaluation of cognitive demands if such testing is warranted. The FCE must be administered with care for the client’s safety and welding.

Who can benefit from the FCE?

  • Someone who has been injured on the job to determine his or her ability to return to the job or alternate work.
  • Someone applying for social security disability benefits.
  • Someone seeking to return to work or volunteer activates after an injury or illness.
  • Someone injured in a catastrophic accident *(i.e., automobile accident) for whom an FCE can determine performance skills and abilities related to resuming former employment or new job.
  • Someone seeking vocational rehabilitation services.
  • Students receiving transitional services from school to the work setting to determine their skills and the extent of support required to perform in a job.

Usually an occupational Therapist Completes an FCE. The FCE may be used to determine:

  • Goals for rehabilitation or readiness for discharge planning.
  • Ability so sagely return to work status (Including full duty, modified duty, or transitional duty).
  • Worker’s compensation case settlement.
  • Disability status.
  • Ability to meet job demands as part of a hiring process (Pre-work/ Post-offer employment testing)
  • Ability to meet the demands of other activities (i.e., being a student, volunteering).

What are the components for the FCE?

  • The components of the FCE will vary based on the purposes of the assessment. The FCE typically begins with a client interview, medical record review, and musculoskeletal screening. Functional testing may include graded material-handing activities such as lifing, carrying, pashing and pulling; and positional tolerance activates such as sitting.
  • Standing, walking, balancing, reaching, stooping, kneeing, crouching, crawling, object handling/manipulation, fingering. Hand grasping and hand manipulation. Pain monitoring is frequently performed during the FCE to document client-reported levels of pain during various activities as well to manage pain. The FCE may also include evaluation of an individual’s hand dexterity, hand coordination, endurance, and other job-specific functions.
  • The FCE report includes an overall physical demands level (U>S Department of labor, n.d.), a summary of job-specific physical abilities. A summary of performance consistency and overall voluntary effort. Job match information, adaptations, to enhance performance, and treatment recommendations, If requested. Some FCEs are designed to also report on the worker’s ability to meeting cognitive demands of the job in question.
  • FCEs are done on a on-on-one basis and may range in length from 4 to 6 hours. The FCE may take place over 2 consecutive days.
  • Referral and Payment for FCEs
  • FCEs are paid for by worker’s compensation insurance plans: self-insured plans: individual insurance plans; federal, state and/ or local agencies; managed care plans; individuals themselves, employers, or legal firms.


Because occupational therapist are experts at evaluation and individual’s ability to perform activities, highly skilled at analyzing work tasks, and able to measure the wide range of environmental factors that can affect work performance, they are well qualified to perform FCEs. An occupational therapy practitioner’s holistic approach can enhance work performance through identification of techniques, task modifications, and environmental adaptations.