Robert M. Loeffler, the leading candidate for chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, apparently has removed himself from consideration.

Loeffler, 53, has become a partner in the Washington law firm of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue. He will set up a Los Angeles office, according to A.M. Sommer Jr., a partner in the firm.

Sommer, a former SEC commissioner, has been mentioned among those under consideration by the Carter administration for the chairmanship.

Loeffler, who was widely praised for his work as trustee in restructuring the scandal-ridden Equity Funding Corp. of American in just three years, could not be reached yesterday for comment.

In an unrelated SEC matter, the commission has submitted its fiscal 1978 budget to a House subcommitee. The SEC proposes to spend $58.3 million in 1978, with 62 per cent of that amount coming in fees from the companies that it regulates.

This would mean that the net cost to the public would be about $22 million, according to the budget report.

In a section of the budget dealing with the enforcement division, the SEC said it had found "under-reserving" for policyholder claims by a number of insurance companies.

The probe of insurance reserves apparently was triggered by last year's near collapse of Government Employees Insurance Co. (GEICO) based here.

The SEC implies, in the budget report, that it well increase surveillance of insurance companies through "informal liaisons . . . with various state insurance commissioners.

In another section of the report, the economic and policy research section plans to study the impact of short sale volume on the operation of the New York Stock Exchange. It also will probe the effect of listing stocks in "street name" rather than in the name of the actual buyer of the stock.

The SEC's Office of the Chief Accountant notes that "enforcement activities seem to involve an increasing number of professional accountants."

The Division of Corporate Finances, in laying out its goals for fiscal 1978, says it will examine 300 more registration statements than it did in the preceding year.

The commission will end the practice of allowing associations and groups pick up the expenses of SEC officials participating in their seminars meetings. The report states: "The Commission believes this policy would elminate any possible appearance of a conflict of interest."