I've been trying to get SSDI/SSI since April 2011. I did the initial application online and of course was denied and was granted reconsideration and was denied. This was when I was told to get an attorney as I was applying for the ALJ hearing. My initial attorney made the application, but at the last minute bailed out because I got my hearing aappoint exactly 3 months from the date of application and I didn't even have time to write my dire needs letter. I had however contacted my Senator for any possible assitance and he has followed it closely and I believe he is the one responsible for getting my hearing so quick. So, it will end up being approximately 18 months from the date of initial application to hearing date. I do know that this particular ALJ office is averaging 13 months from application to hearing, so I have to say I encourage anyone to contact their respective senator, especially if you are in a dire needs situation. I had explained my dire needs situation to my senator though and he was aware of it and my have passed it along to ODAR. There is going to be an "Occupational Representative" attending and the letter from my Senator said that it was an informal hearing to review my records, but I received the normal hearing form from ODAR. So I have a question or two from anyone that has recent experience with winning disability. 1) Does the attorney do most of the talking on your behalf or is there a significant amount expected of me? (I'm having terrible anxiety righ now is why I'm asking.) 2) Is the dress really very informal, as I don't mean blue jeans with holes in them, but a nice pullover and dress shorts if warm and if cold dress jeans or khakis would be exceptable. I grew a beard so I wouldn't have to shave for some reason my face turns beet red in splotches wherever I shave, plus my hair is till very brown and my beard is silver grey. 3) If someone is approved, how long after the hearing is it before I receive "back pay" (if awarded) and when my first check is deposited. 4) I feel like I know this answer, but will ask anyway, is "direct deposit" faster than "check by mail"? Thanks ahead of time for any information and if anyone has questions I'll be glad to answer the best I can and if I don't know I'll see if I can find out something for you.