As of 2019, the disability hearing offices located in Greenville, SC; Columbia, SC; Charlotte, NC; and Greensboro, NC have an average of 4,944 pending cases each which equates to an average wait time of 16.75 months to get a hearing date. The system is simply overloaded. For more statistics visit https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/appeal.html.
Unless your attorney tells you differently, you should arrive for your disability hearing about a half an hour early. Disability hearings usually start on time--so whatever you do, don't be late.
You do not need to dress up like you would for church or a wedding. Business casual dress is sufficient. No shorts, sandals, or torn clothing; you want the judge to know you are taking this process seriously.
A claimant's role in the disability hearing is to answer questions regarding their work history, education, medical history, symptoms, work limitations, and daily activities. This is your opportunity to tell the judge your side of the story.
A vocational expert is an expert witness who knows about job availability in the current labor market as well as the skills that are needed to perform specific jobs. They testify during the hearing about a claimant's ability to do their past work and any other full-time work in the economy given their medical symptoms and work limitations.