Government retirees, both civil service and military, appear headed for a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment in January. Some forecasters are predicting that the raise may be as high as 4 percent.

The amount is important because there are almost 4 million retirees nationwide, including more than 100,000 in this area who count on the pension.

The typical federal retiree now gets $13,566 a year before taxes while the typical civil service survivor benefit is $6,432.

In the District, the monthly payment to retired federal workers is more than $45 million. It is $43 million a month in the district of Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) and $38 million in the district of Rep. Constance Morella (R-Md.); $24 million in the district of Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.); $25 million in the district of Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and more than $13 million a month each in the districts of Maryland Democratic Reps. Tom McMillen and Roy Dyson.

Ex-government and military personnel belong to one of the few pension plans in the nation that promises -- although it has not always delivered -- regular full catch-ups with inflation. Many private pension plans have no cost-of-living adjustment feature at all, while others give their retirees irregular increases that are actually less than the rise in inflation.

Under the federal-military retirement program, participants are supposed to get a COLA each January that reflects the rise in the consumer price index in the third quarter of the current year over the same period in the previous year.

So far this year the consumer price index raise indicates a January 1988 COLA of 3 percent. But the actual amount won't be known until economic data for July, August and September of this year are compiled.

Many retirees are under the mistaken impression that they get the same raise as active duty civil servants. However, raises for civil servants and the military are determined by the president and confirmed by Congress. President Reagan has yet to recommend a pay figure, although Congress has tentatively approved a 3 percent raise. The cost of living has little if anything to do with the size of the federal pay raise.

Later this month the president will propose a 1988 pay figure for federal workers. If it is less than 3 percent, Congress is expected to push through legislation that would set the raise at a minimum of 3 percent. But it will be mid-September, when this year's third-quarter figures are official, before retirees know the exact amount of their January raise. Right now the amount is 3 percent. Job Mart

The Office of Personnel Management needs 30 retirement claims examiners at the Grade 5 level. Call 632-8482. OPM also wants employe development specialists, GS 9 through 12, with civil service status. Call 632-9593.

Federal Prison Industries is looking for a GS 12 marketing specialist. Call Melanie Cohen at 724-3265.

The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board is looking for a lawyer, GS 9 through 12, experience in federal procurement, freedom of information, privacy and sunshine acts. Call John Coates at 653-2577.

Justice needs 10 legal secretaries, GS 3 through 7. Status not required but applicants must type at least 60 words per minute. Call Carol Jumalon at 724-7497. Justice also has openings for a public affairs specialist, GS 11/12, a writer-editor, GS 9/11; secretary, GS 5/7 and clerk-typist, GS 3/4. Call 724-7730.