An attractive option that allows U.S. retirees to take reduced pensions in exchange for a lump-sum payment equal to the money they put into their federal retirement program appears safe this year from the budget-cutters' knife.

The benefit, available only since last June, allows retirees to receive a single check that returns to them -- less taxes -- the 7 percent of salary that most kicked into the pension plan during the years in which they worked for the government. In the case of high-salaried, longtime employes, that can be a sizable check.

The monthly annuity checks of retirees who take the lump-sum option are reduced from 8 to 12 percent for life because their benefits then are based on only the government contribution to their plan.

But even though it is taxable and cuts down their monthly checks, many retirees have taken the lump-sum check either for investment or for big-ticket items such as paying off a mortgage or purchasing a retirement home.

The Reagan administration has never been crazy about the lump-sum option. And Senate-House budget conferees -- who have been seeking a compromise budget plan for more than a month -- had considered eliminating the lump-sum option as a way to cut federal personnel costs. But efforts to come up with a compromise budget plan have stalled, primarily because of different defense spending goals of the Senate and House.

Congressional insiders say that if a compromise isn't reached this week the House will go ahead with the regular appropriation process, voting out agency budgets that will then be sent to the Senate.

Although it is still possible that a compromise affecting the lump-sum payments may be reached, federal union lobbyists believe that is unlikely, meaning that the option will probably be available for people retiring this year.Financial Aid

The Federal Employees Education and Assistance Fund yesterday gave its first grant -- a $1,500 payment -- to a Washington area civil servant. The Navy Department worker, Frances Scott Hill, has had to go on leave without pay while she and her daughter are taking daily cancer treatments.

FEEA is a self-help charitable group funded by contributions from government workers and local businesses and federal employe unions and organizations. It is part of the Combined Federal Campaign and has raised $350,000 since August. FEEA says it has $2 million available to assist U.S. workers and their families with medical emergencies, and for educational loans and grants. For information, call 543-8685. People

Wayne Foren has been named central office employe of the year by the Small Business Administration. SBA recently honored a dozen workers for outstanding performance. Washington area winners are Gregory A. Walter, James Ramsey, Thomas S. Williams, Terry Nelson, Norma Nelson and James Hammersley.

Robert R. Fredlund has been given the first Gladys N. Spellman personnel award by the Prince George's chapter of the International Personnel Management Association. Fredlund was Treasury's deputy personnel director before retiring after 40 years with the government. The award also honors the former congresswoman from Maryland who helped enact bills favorable to government workers. Job Mart

Commerce has openings (full or part time) for personnel management specialists, Grades 9 through 12. Call Peggy Clark at 377-5138.