Fifteen metropolitan area residents employed by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare were indicted yesterday on charges of defrauding the federal government of $1,200 to $9,900 in welfare payments.

The indictments came after a year-long investigation by officials of HEW, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the District Department of Human Recources.

The investigation began after HEW Secretary Joseph A. Califano Jr., in his effort to expose welfare fraud by federal employes, disclosed that 216 federal workers were on D.C. area welfare rolls.

The indictments were for mail fraud and false pretenses. The government contends that the 15 indicted HEW workers either continued to collect welfare after securing HEW jobs, or failed to report pay raises to welfare authorities.

Convictions carry penalties of five years in prison for each count of mail fraud, and 1 to 3 years for each count of false pretenses.

Those indicted were:

Allen A. Rogers, 26, of 3774 Hayes St. NE; Betty V. Young, 30, of 2201 Hunter PI. SE; Maxine W. Ashton, 39, of 902 C St. NE; Yvonne J. Jannifer, 32, of 2312 Green St. SE; Mary E. Frazier, 27, of 6215 Baltlc St., Seat Pleasant; Mary E. Porter, 25, of 1911 Savannah St. SE.

Veronica D. Benson, 24, of 1120 Trenton PI. SE; Margaret M. Stoddard, 35, of 1100 Mississippi Ave. SE; Betty A. Chappelle, 29, of 1249 Eaton Rd. SE; Suzanne W. Kennedy, 25, of 1621 Butler St. SE; Debra A. Brown, 24, of 1513 Madison St., Hyattsville.

Katherine E. Hall, 25, of 3702 Hayes St. NE; Diane A. Wilson, 28, of 1501 27th St. SE; Clara B. Leverett, 42, of 6561 Hilmar Dr., Forestiville, and Teresa D. Jones, 24, of 245 58th St. NE.