FCE stands for functional capacity evaluation in Social Security disability cases. It refers to a series of assessments used to determine if you can function in certain circumstances. Most often, Social Security uses the FCE as part of its process to decide if you can function well enough to work.

When the Social Security Administration (SSA) orders you to take an FCE, it is because it wants to determine whether you can perform work above the substantially gainful activity (SGA) level. If the answer is yes, then you do not qualify for disability benefits. Before you undergo an FCE, you may want to speak with a disability lawyer from the Disability Advantage Group.

For a free consultation, call 865-566-0800 today.

What You Can Expect During an FCE

An FCE is a thorough series of tests that can take several hours to complete. The medical professional administering the FCE will put you through a battery of evaluations. Their purpose is to determine your level of functionality — in other words, what you can and cannot do from a work standpoint.

Once you complete the tests, the person administering it will prepare a report based on your results. The report will indicate the level of work you are capable of performing. It will place you in one of the following six categories:

Able to Perform Very Heavy Work

Very heavy work includes lifting objects that weigh at least 100 pounds and frequently carrying objects that weigh 50 pounds or more.  

Able to Perform Heavy Work

If you are in this category, the person who administered the test believes you are capable of lifting up to 50 pounds repeatedly, but that you are unable to lift objects weighing more than 100 pounds.

Able to Perform Medium Work

To land in this category, you can lift up to 25 pounds repeatedly and up to 50 pounds occasionally.

Able to Perform Light Work

If you are able to perform light work, that means you can only lift 10 pounds repeatedly and 20 pounds occasionally; however, this type of work requires a lot of walking and standing.

Able to Perform Sedentary Work

If you can lift 10 pounds but cannot meet the criteria for light work, you will probably end up with this rating.

Unable to Perform Sedentary Work

The person administering the FCE will rate you as unable to perform sedentary work if you cannot sit at a desk (with small amounts of walking and standing) or you cannot lift up to 10 pounds repeatedly throughout the day.

Which Rating Counts as Able to Maintain Substantially Gainful Activity (SGA)

It depends. Along with the FCE results, your work history, education, and skills determine if you are capable of SGA.

For instance, if you have only ever worked construction and do not know how to use computers or perform administrative duties, you could be deemed incapable of gainful employment if you fall in any category other than heavy or medium work.

But if your work history is mostly office jobs and the FCE says you can perform sedentary work, then the SSA will probably deem you capable of obtaining and maintaining SGA.

The Difference Between an FCE and an RFC

An FCE is similar to another test commonly used in the judging of Social Security disability claims: the RFC, or residual functional capacity test. But the two tests have essential differences.

The Doctor Determining Your RFC May Never Physically Evaluate You

The biggest is that an FCE is a write-up completed by the person actually evaluating you, the applicant. An RFC, in contrast, is a write-up by a person who reviews your existing medical records and tests you have already undergone. In some cases, the doctor determining your RFC may never meet you.

The SSA Orders FCEs, Claimants Usually Obtain an RFC Voluntarily

Another difference is that Social Security is usually the one that orders applicants to undergo an FCE. It is often one of the final steps in the review process when Social Security is on the cusp of issuing an approval but wants more evidence of the applicant’s functional limitations.

With an RFC, the applicant usually completes the test voluntarily as a way to offer objective evidence of a functional limitation. Your existing doctor may complete your RFC, whereas Social Security typically assigns someone of its choosing to administer an FCE.

Call 865-566-0800 to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With a Social Security Disability Lawyer Today

The attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group want to help you win your Social Security disability claim on the first try. We can help you put together a robust and compelling application. We offer a free case evaluation to go over your options. To schedule an appointment, call us at 865-566-0800.

ant to help you win your Social Security disability claim on the first try. We can help you put together a robust and compelling application. We offer a free case evaluation to go over your options. To schedule an appointment, call us at 865-566-0800.