The nation's 4.8 million federal workers and civil service and military retirees would fare much better under the budget tentatively approved by the Democratic-controlled House than the budget package that has been outlined by the Republican-led Senate.

The Senate approved its recommended spending guidelines two weeks ago, and the House budget was cleared (subject to review by individual committees) last week. This is what they would do for, and to, government and military personnel:

Senate Budget:

* Federal workers, civil service and military retirees and persons under Social Security would get no pay or cost-of-living adjustments in January. Federal pay raises would resume in 1987, as would civil service-military and Social Security COLAs.

* Most white-collar and blue-collar federal workers would be required to start contributing 9 percent of salary (instead of 7 percent at present) to the civil service retirement fund in 1987. Postal employes would start paying the extra 9 percent in 1986 because they would not be subject to the proposed pay freeze.

* Dollar reductions could include pension-reducing penalties for persons retiring before age 65. Senate budget officials insist there is no intention to change the system that now permits workers to retire on unreduced annuities at age 55 with 30 years' service.

But federal and postal union lobbyists say the issue won't be settled until the Senate and House go to conference over their respective budgets.

* It proposes a reduction via attrition in the federal work force of 4 percent each year for the next three years.

* Survivor benefits for widows and widowers of federal employes would be reduced to conform to the practice for survivors under the Social Security system.

House Budget:

It does not include any COLA freeze next year for persons getting federal civil service or military retirement or for people drawing Social Security benefits.

* The plan does include a pay freeze next year. Like the Senate plan, it anticipates a federal pay raise of 3.8 percent in 1987 and another 4.7 percent in January 1988.

* Federal employment would be reduced, via attrition, 2 percent over three years.

Government agencies would cut back on the number of jobs and services they contract out to the private sector.

* The Federal Employee Health Benefits Program would use $300 million of its $1.9 billion reserves to reduce health premiums next year, or to lessen increases in plans that are allowed to raise rates.

Next step for the civil service portion of both budgets is referral to the committees that have jurisdiction over federal pay-fringe benefit matters, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Post Office-Civil Service Committee.

When the provisions have approved or revised spending targets, the full House and Senate will have to approve them. Then the two different budgets will go to a Senate-House conference to work out a compromise.