For whatever reason, the treating doctor — unless he or she is a specialist (i.e., an Orthopaedic Surgeon, a Rheumatologist, a Pain Management Specialist, etc.) — is often uncomfortable and feels a sense of inadequacy in making a determination as to whether a Federal or Postal employee is unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of his or her job.
Under such circumstances, it may be fruitful for physical medical conditions, to undergo a Functional Capacity Evaluation (an “FCE”). An FCE provides — in addition to “objective” diagnostic test results — an independent basis upon which to rely upon, in formulating a medical opinion. The FCE provides, for the treating doctor, a “test” upon which the doctor can formulate an opinion, based upon reasonable medical certainty, as to the physical limits, endurance, and capabilities of an individual.
Further, the Office of Personnel Management is often impressed with an FCE. Ultimately, the medical opinion of the treating doctor, based upon a long history of clinical examinations, diagnoses based upon generally accepted criteria within the medical profession, diagnostic testing, and an attempt at reasonable treatment modalities: all together, comprise a valid basis for formulating and rendering a medical opinion in a Federal Disability Retirement case.
Nevertheless, if an FCE makes the treating doctor that much more comfortable in coming to a medical opinion, then by all means, go through with the FCE. It can only make your OPM disability case stronger.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire