Functional Capacity Exam (FCE) in NJ Work Injury Law

A Functional Capacity Exam, often abbreviated as FCE, is a comprehensive assessment conducted to determine an individual’s ability to perform specific tasks related to their job or daily life. This exam helps in gauging the extent of physical and functional limitations post-injury.

An injured worker being assisted with medical testing equipment for Functional Capacity Exam (FCE) to assess workability

Role in NJ Work Injury Law

In the realm of New Jersey’s work injury law, the FCE can be used to provide evidence regarding an injured worker’s physical capabilities, especially when determining the degree of disability and whether the worker can return to their former employment or another form of employment. Insurance companies might also request an FCE to evaluate the validity and extent of an injured worker’s claim.

What to Expect During an FCE

The FCE usually involves a series of tests, practices, and observations to determine the injured person’s physical abilities. This can include testing strength, range of motion, endurance, and other physical traits. It may also involve job-specific tasks, like lifting or carrying items, to directly assess one’s capability to return to work.

Importance in Claims Process

The results of an FCE can impact a worker’s compensation claim in New Jersey. A well-documented and thorough FCE can provide evidence of a worker’s physical capabilities or limitations. Conversely, if the FCE suggests the worker can resume regular duties, it may influence the decision to return the individual to their previous role or perhaps offer a different position more aligned with their current capacities if such a different position exists.


John, a warehouse worker, suffered a back injury on the job. After undergoing surgery and rehabilitation, his doctor recommended an FCE to assess his readiness to return to work. The FCE revealed that while John had made considerable improvements, he had limitations on lifting heavy weights. Based on the FCE’s findings, John was reassigned to a role that involved lighter tasks, ensuring he could work safely while continuing his recovery. This transition was smoother because the FCE results provided clear guidelines on what tasks John could handle.

"To crush, to annihilate a man utterly, to inflict on him the most terrible of punishments so that the most ferocious murderer would shudder at it and dread it before hand, one need only give him work of an absolutely, completely useless and irrational character."

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