Early in Michael Astrue's term as Commissioner, Social Security proposed a number of changes to its rules concerning the Appeals Council. The most controversial of these was a proposal to limit appeals to closed periods only, that is, if a claimant received a remand after making an appeal, the remand would only concern benefits up to the point of the original decision. A favorable decision on remand would only give the claimant a lump sum of benefits up to the date of the original denial. The proposal would also have limited the ability of claimants to submit additional medical evidence after the date of a hearing to five days but would have given claimants 75 days notice of hearings. Astrue backed off the more controversial portions of the proposal but never withdrew the whole thing. It hung fire. It's back now. As Astrue is leaving office, he's sending that proposal over to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), presumably with some amendments. With OMB's approval, the rule can be published in the Federal Register as a final rule. There's no way to know what ended up in the final rule.
OMB is not going to act on this until after Astrue has left office. The new Commissioner, whoever he or she may be, will have a chance to withdraw this proposal for further study or to kill it.