The administrative law judge (ALJ) is both judge and jury at a social security disability hearing. In that, the ALJ controls the hearing and will also provide the outcome of your SSDI or SSI claim.
SSDI and SSI hearings are not like anything you would see on television. Every ALJ has a different way of running his or her hearings. One glaring difference between what you see on television and a SSDI or SSI hearing is the ALJs ability to accept evidence that would otherwise be inadmissible in a court of law. In other words, your social security disability attorney is not going to be jumping out of his chair objecting to things that are presented at your SSDI or SSI hearing. Why? There are relatively no objections in a SSDI or SSI hearing. The ALJ weighs the credibility of the evidence and makes his decisions notwithstanding the admissibility of the information presented. The ALJs job is to conduct your hearing. He makes the rules and also decides the case. The ALJ will look into all the issues of your case, examine your demeanor in the case, accept facts as true or not true, and will accept or reject the testimony of the witnesses in the hearing. The ALJ will review your case de novo. This is a fancy term, but easy to understand. The judge is going to take a fresh look at you SSDI or SSI case. He is not associated with the agency that previously denied your claim that got you to this point. The judge is required to go into the hearing without prejudice of the fact that you have been previously denied.
It is plain to see the ALJ has a significant amount of power. It is important to remember that this is not an adversarial process. Therefore you should show the ALJ respect and be as polite as possible. Your social security disability lawyer will instruct you further on how you should act, dress, and what you should say during your hearing. If you do not have a representative at this point, you should look into employing counsel for your hearing before the ALJ.