What Are Permanent Work Restrictions, and What Do They Mean?

What Are Permanent Work Restrictions, and What Do They Mean?

If a worker is hurt on the job, they may be out of work while receiving medical treatment and healing from their injuries. When their doctor releases them to return to work, it could be with work restrictions. These restrictions can impact your workers’ compensation claim and permanent disability benefits.

What Are Permanent Work Restrictions?

What Are Permanent Work Restrictions?

Work restrictions are physical activities that your doctor states you cannot perform because of your on-the-job injuries. Some work restrictions might be temporary. In other words, they may be removed as you continue to heal and reach maximum medical improvement (MMI).

However, permanent work restrictions are not expected to change. They are expected to last for the rest of your life. Permanent work restrictions can significantly impact your Florida workers’ compensation case.

How Are Permanent Work Restrictions Assigned in a Florida Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Some injuries may prevent you from performing some – but not all – tasks required for your job. Therefore, your doctor may state that you can return to work with restrictions. For example, if you injured your back, your physician might restrict the amount of weight you can lift, pull, or push while receiving physical therapy for your injuries.

A doctor might order temporary work restrictions based on their medical opinion, but most permanent work restrictions are the consequence of a functional capacity evaluation (FCE). Your physician can order an FCE to assist them in determining your work restrictions. A workers’ compensation insurance company or employer may also require an FCE to evaluate whether a worker should have work restrictions.

What Is a Functional Capacity Evaluation in a Workers’ Compensation Case?

An FCE evaluates your physical abilities after an injury. It determines whether you have any limitations that could impact your ability to perform your job duties. Generally, a certified healthcare provider completes an FCE at a medical facility. Physical therapists, athletic trainers, physicians, and occupational therapists are examples of professionals who might perform a functional capacity evaluation for a workers’ comp claim.

During the FCE, you are asked to perform various tasks to evaluate your:

  • Balance
  • Physical strength
  • Ability to stand, sit, and walk
  • Pain levels
  • Symptom validity
  • Range of motion
  • Postural intolerances
  • Ability to perform gross and fine manipulations
  • Level of fatigue
  • Ability to lift, push, or carry weight

The tests should be standardized tests that objectively measure your physical functional abilities. The FCE includes physical maneuvers and using tools, machines, and equipment. An FCE may last a few hours, a full day, or two days, depending on your medical condition and the type and intensity of testing involved in the evaluation.

The evaluator completes an FCE report, which provides information about the findings and your medical condition, including but not limited to:

  • The need for additional medical treatment and/or rehabilitation
  • The limitations and restrictions caused by your condition
  • Whether you can go back to work with or without restrictions
  • The types of job duties you can perform, with or without restrictions
  • A discussion of your current job duties and whether your condition limits your ability to perform those duties

Typically, the evaluator has a copy of your job description, including the tasks and duties you are required to perform. The evaluator addresses each of the responsibilities and tasks individually.

For example, you may be able to perform 70% of your job duties without restrictions. However, permanent work restrictions prevent you from performing the remaining 30% of your duties. 

Sometimes, an employer may make accommodations that allow you to return to your job with permanent work restrictions. In other cases, accommodations might not be available or possible.

Preparing for a Functional Capacity Evaluation

Talk with your Florida workers’ compensation lawyer before your scheduled FCE. Your attorney will help you understand what to expect at the evaluation. They’ll also discuss the do’s and don’ts for an FCE.

Things to keep in mind regarding an FCE include:

  • Arrive early for the FCE so you don’t risk missing the appointment, which could delay your workers’ comp claim.
  • Dress comfortably because you will be moving, and wear appropriate shoes.
  • Be honest during the evaluation. Do not exaggerate your injuries or symptoms. FCEs are designed to ensure you are genuinely trying to complete the tasks.
  • Always assume you are being observed.
  • Avoid taking pain medication before the evaluation. Pain medication masks your symptoms and could minimize the impact of your injuries on your functional abilities.

Most physicians and healthcare providers performing FCEs are impartial evaluators. However, insurance companies and employers may choose pro-employer facilities and providers. If you disagree with the results of the FCE, your attorney can arrange for an independent FCE to confirm the results.

How Do the Results of the FCE Impact Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Florida?

An injured worker in Florida can receive disability benefits if they are unable to work because of a job-related injury. The results of the FCE can determine whether the worker gets temporary total or partial disability.

If the work restrictions prevent you from performing any of your job duties, you can receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. TTD benefits equal two-thirds of your average wages before you were injured, up to the state maximum rates.

Suppose your doctor releases you to restricted duty based on the FCE results. In that case, you can receive temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits if your work restrictions prevent you from earning at least 80% of your average weekly wages.

Permanent work restrictions mean you may never work again. If so, Florida laws provide permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. The benefits equal two-thirds of your average weekly wages.

Some injuries are presumed to cause permanent and total disability unless the employer or workers’ comp insurance company can prove you are able to engage in sedentary employment within 50 miles of your home. Employers and insurance providers might use the FCE to argue that your permanent work restrictions do not prevent sedentary employment.

Workers’ comp cases involving permanent work restrictions can result in disputes. The insurance company and your employer may pressure you to return to work even though your work restrictions prevent you from performing your job. They may send you for an FCE to try to prove you can perform your job duties.

If your doctor states you will have a permanent impairment rating because of a disability, contact an Ocala workers’ compensation lawyer for help. An attorney will protect your rights throughout the workers’ comp case. They can help you locate medical specialists and vocational experts to perform FCEs and provide expert opinions.

An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you fight for the benefits you deserve after a work-related injury.

Contact Our Ocala Personal Injury Lawyers for Help

Our lawyers at Allen Law Firm, P.A. are dedicated to helping accident victims get the money they deserve. Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Ocala personal injury attorney at (352) 351-3258. Let us show you why our personal injury law firm differs from other law firms in Florida.