The government has ruled that the Secret Service agent and D.C. policeman who were shot Monday defending President Reagan are eligible for new and higher insurance benefits that went into effect April 1 for other civil servants.

To be covered by new benefits offered last month, federal workers are supposed to be in a "duty status" and at the office for at least one day before their new, expanded coverage could go into effect. That is imposible for Secret Service agent Timothy J. McCarthy and D.C. police officer Thomas K. Delahanty. Both are in local hospitals recovering from gunshot wounds. President Reagan and White House press secretary James Brady, both of whom were also shot, were automaitcally covered by the new insurance program, since both are officials who are considered to be in a duty status 24 hours a day, wherever they are.

Many agencies, including the Secret Service, urged employes who are sick, on vacation or leave without pay, to come into the office for one day this week so that expanded life insurance benefits they may have signed up for would go into effect immediately.

It is not known whether McCarthy or Delahanty signed up for the new optional life insurance. If would increase their coverage from an amount equal to their approximate annual salary to as much as five-times annual pay, plus a double indemnity provision.

Office of Personnel Management, which manages federal insurance programs, said yesterday it had been in touch with the Treasury Department and the D.C. Government and has been "assured that both of the injured employes are considered to be in duty status at this time" and are therefore eligible for the new benefits of the program. Uncle Sam can cut the red tape when it counts. Nice work!