After unsuccessfully mediating the lawsuit on my back injury (herniated L4-5 resulting in nerve root compression, microdiskectomy, subsequent L4-5 fusion, failed back syndrome, nerve damage, piriformis syndrome, chronic pain and left leg weakness), the other side wants to send me for a Functional Capacity Exam. I've researched this, and know that varying forms can be grueling. What should I do to prepare myself for this test? What should I expect? Their big hangup on the case is that they say I should be able to work, but my doctors (and I, and Social Security) say I can't. We can't introduce SSD into the case (court provisions will allow them to object to its introduction), so I don't have that in my favor. I just completed a re-eval by SSD, and based on that , they decided to continue my SSD. I would rather get the case settled than to go my scheduled court date of Fall 2007, so I'm submitting myself to this exam. I'm concerned that this examination will hurt, and since I'm already in chronic pain, will definitely set me back. Any hints or tips would be appreciated.
My suggestion to you is do not do anything that will further injure you back. If during a test you are unable to do anymore don't....tell them...make sure you verbally communicate that whatever you are asked to do ..that it is hurting or causing pain they know about it.....They CAN NOT tell what the amount of pain you are experiencing nor what you can physically do. Years ago I had to go for one of those tests for WC...I did not refuse to do any test but only did what I felt I could do without further injury or aggravating my pain. Mine was back problems also--w/chronic pain. One other thing I found out....don't be the good person and sit still like your Mother taught you. If you are stating that you can not sit make sure you DON"T sit for ANY period of time without getting up and down. That goes for in court also. They use that against you if they see you can sit still. I had alot of 'ants' in my pants at every meeting.
As far as the individual tests or movements it probably will differ from one eval to another.
The other side is trying to "wear you down" so they can settle for the least amount.
Hang in there!!!
Thanks for all the good suggestions. I used to be a paralegal too, which is why I've been able to be so patient (this happened 6 years ago). I definitely had a lot of 'ants' during the mediation, even though I was wearing a TENS unit - I couldn't sit for more than 10-15 minutes. I will definitely be vocal about telling them what I can't do, although I won't refuse to do any test. They're not contesting liability, only the future wages, which are substantial. If we can document that I can definitely NOT work (although I so wish I could), then my lawyer thinks they will settle. I think the exam will be sometime in June, so I'll keep y'all posted. Thanks again.
I won't lie to you FCE's are painful and you will probably be miserable for several days afterwards. But the good news is they carry a huge amount of weight in your case. I've had 3 and each was completely different so I can't tell you exactly what to expect. but I do agree COMPLETELY with countrykid's advice. Do not sit there and not say anything! Tell them every step of the way when you are in pain, what exactly is hurting and what your pain scale is. Like countrykid said - don't do anything that will cause you any further injury. They will actually tell you that before you even start that they don't want you to do anything that will hurt you. If you can try something but then can't finish that's ok too. Best thing is to be very vocal and put forth whatever effort you are able.
I agree that FCEs are VERY painful. I couldn't walk for 5 days afterwards without using a walker. The Dr. was very nice and he told me to let him know when something woudl srat hurting and he would immediately stop. I did and he did stop, but I was still in alot of pain that really made itself known the next morning.
I'm definitely not looking forward to this. I'm having a really bad day today - was in bed for most of the afternoon as my low back hurt so badly . It's hurting in the area of my instrumentation, but I had it checked out and nothing's wrong, so I guess I just did too much the last couple of days (I've been trying to walk on my treadmill more - at least 30 minutes every day). It's SO frustrating not being able to do things; sometimes I get stubborn and do them anyway , and then pay for it later (as I'm doing today). I hate taking the pain meds, as they render me pretty much useless. The TENS unit helps some, but I can't wear that 24/7. I went to a really good pain management specialist, and short of implanting a morphine pump or spinal cord stimulator, we've done about everything we can do. I WON'T take Neurontin again, and I won't take stronger pain meds. So, just have to modify activity as much as possible, live with it, and hope this whole odyssey ends soon. Thanks again, everyone.
When is your FCE? Hope things go well for you. Know what you mean about no options except morphine pump and stimulator. I had a pump implanted few years ago because nothing more could be done. Still can't do much of anything and have had to accept my life the way it is. Not easy, some days I deal with it better than others.
Hope the FCE isn't too bad for you adn that you are having a better day today