Functional Capacity Evaluation: Legal Definition

The functional capacity evaluation (FCE) is a test to determine your ability to function in specific situations. It is often part of the process to get approved for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA), which administers the benefits, uses the FCE to assess the type of work you can and cannot perform.

The ultimate question the SSA hopes to answer with an FCE is whether you are capable of substantially gainful activity (SGA). In other words, can you secure and maintain gainful employment in spite of your disability? If the answer is no, you may qualify for benefits.

What the FCE Is and What It Measures

An FCE is a series of tests. Often taking several hours to complete, it provides a comprehensive measurement of your functional abilities. The SSA appoints a medical professional to administer the FCE. This is in contrast to the other well-known disability assessment, the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) test, which your own doctor may complete.

After the SSA reviews your FCE, it should have a better idea of what you can and cannot do from a work standpoint. The end result of an FCE is that you are placed into one of the following five categories:

Able to Perform Heavy Work

This category represents the highest level of functional capacity. Placement here indicates that you can work an eight-hour shift and that you are capable of remaining on your feet for at least six of those hours. It also indicates your ability to lift more than 25 pounds repeatedly and more than 50 pounds occasionally.

Able to Perform Medium Work

If you land in this category, it is believed that you can work eight hours and stand for six of them. The only difference between this category and the higher one is your lifting capacity. Here, you can lift up to 25 pounds repeatedly and up to 50 pounds occasionally.

Able to Perform Light Work

In this category, you are still able to stand for six hours out of an eight-hour shift. However, you can only lift up to 10 pounds repeatedly and up to 20 pounds occasionally.

Able to Perform Sedentary Work

Here, you are only required to sit, not stand, for six hours out of an eight-hour shift, and to lift up to 10 pounds occasionally.

Unable to Perform Sedentary Work

You will receive a rating of unable to perform sedentary work if you are unable to sit in a desk for six hours a day or lift up to 10 pounds occasionally.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With a Social Security Disability Attorney by Calling 865-566-0800 Today

If you have questions about the application process for Social Security disability, a lawyer from the Disability Advantage Group, can help. Our staff can help you put together an application or appeal so that you can start collecting benefits. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 865-566-0800.