Functional Capacity Exams
We do not generally advise doing this, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) never asks a claimant to do so. Functional capacity evaluations do not effectively answer the essential question of the claimant’s ability to maintain work activities eight hours a day, five days a week, and fifty weeks a year. For patients under 50, the real question is the ability to perform full time sedentary work. However, even this type of work has its own demands, such as sitting for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday, occasionally standing or walking for two hours a day, lifting about 10 pounds, and frequently lifting lighter objects. Nonetheless, functional capacity exams tend to result in findings that the patient can do this type of work, even when they cannot. The reason is that capacity to perform this type of work is fallaciously assumed when a patient is unable to do more strenuous work, because to truly test ability to perform sedentary work would be prohibitively expensive.
What special expertise and training does a doctor need to estimate a patient’s capacity for performing work-related activities?
None. While relevant to the weight given to the doctor’s opinion, special expertise is not required in order to offer an opinion that will be considered by SSA. SSA acknowledges the value of a treating physician’s longitudinal perspective on a patient’s condition and recognizes that he or she is uniquely qualified to make a valuable contribution to the determination of disability. A specialist – particularly one who has only seen the patient in the context of a disability evaluation – would likely lack this perspective For further information on these and other issues of interest to treating physicians, or if you have a patient in need of an effective advocate before the SSA, please contact the experienced Los Angeles disability attorneys at Lowenstein Disability Lawyers today.