Charles E. Ridgway Jr., 74, a retired chief of the budget for the Social Security Administration's Bureau of Hearing and Appeals who was active in senior citizen affairs, died Wednesday at Montgomery General Hospital of arteriosclerosis and cardio-vascular disease. He lived in Laurel.

A native Washingtonian and a graduate of Eastern High School here, Mr. Ridgway began his government career at age 14, working as a messenger for the Census Bureau. He remained with the bureau until 1936, when he transferred to the Social Security Board, the predecessor to the Social Security Administration.

He was the agency's field manager in North Carolina and New York before returning here in 1945. He was budget chief of its bureau of hearing and appeals when he retired in 1963 at age 56 after 42 years of federal service.

After retiring, Mr. Ridgway was president of both the Laurel Senior Friendship Club and the Hammond Village Citizens Association.

He had appeared before the Maryland Council on Aging and the city council off Laurel to lobby for more jobs and recreational activities for senior citizens.

Mr. Ridgway was a life member and former treasurer of the Columbia chapter of Optimists International.

Survivors includes his wife of 52 years, E. Aileen, of Laurel; a son, Charles E. Iii, of Rockville; a daughter, Patricia A., of Ellicott City; two sisters, Thelma Henderson and Ovellia Rock of Silver Spring, and three grandsons.