When you have a workers’ compensation claim in New Jersey, you may be subjected to either a functional capacity evaluation (FCE) or an independent medical examination (IME) – or both.
Protecting your interests is a lot easier when you understand the purpose of each of these exams and how they differ. Here’s what you need to know:
Functional capacity evaluations
FCEs are normally ordered by the physician that’s treating you for your workers’ compensation claim. Typically, these evaluations are conducted by occupational or physical therapists, and the goal is to figure out what kinds of limitations you have due to your injury.
The FCE will assess your ability to do things like:
- Sit, stand or walk for various lengths of time
- Push, pull and carry different weights
- Gripping, lifting, turning, bending and squatting
In essence, these can be used to determine what sort of restrictions you now have and what kinds of workplace accommodation you need to return to work.
Independent medical examinations
IMEs, in contrast, are usually ordered when there is some doubt about the veracity of your claim. Sometimes, a workers’ comp doctor is seen as “too patient-friendly,” or the doctor may suspect that you’re exaggerating your symptoms.
An IME is supposed to be unbiased, but that’s not always the case, so it’s particularly important to be proactive about your rights during this process.
Ultimately, workers’ compensation benefits aren’t nearly as easy to obtain as they are supposed to be, and there are all kinds of pitfalls for the unwary. Make sure that you take the necessary steps to preserve your interests.