People who would like to work for the federal government without leaving home got a boost yesterday as a House subcommittee approved the lifeline of a computer work-at-home plan.

The Appropriations subcomittee on the Treasury and Postal Service passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) that would allow U.S. agencies to pay for installation of telephone lines into the homes of employees. That would let people with home computers communicate with their office database.

For those who got work-at-home assignments, traffic problems on the Wilson Bridge or Interstate 270 would become a thing of the past.

Wolf has been pushing the work-at-home concept, called flexiplace, for several years. The endorsement came from the subcommittee that controls funds for the Treasury, Postal Service and many non-cabinet agencies.

Under current law, the government -- except in rare cases -- cannot install phone lines in private homes. Wolf claims the flexiplace program would make it easier for disabled people, single parents and those who just don't like to commute to work for the government. He said such programs have worked in industry and would help ease traffic and pollution problems here. 1991 Pay Raise

The subcommittee also passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) that would give white-collar U.S. workers a 4.1 percent raise in January. The House Budget Committee had approved that amount, but the Treasury- Postal subcommittee gives it financial backing. President Bush wants the raise to be 3.5 percent. But he is not expected to fight the higher amount if Congress insists on it.

Last year the president wanted to limit the January 1990 raise to 2 percent, but Congress pushed it up to 3.6 percent. That same pattern is being followed this year. Lump-Sum Choices

Every month, thousands of new federal retirees must decide whether to take the lump-sum pension option. The payments, which equal all the retiree's pension plan contributions, average about $32,000 for Washington area retirees. Taking the lump-sum payments, which are taxable, reduces the retiree's pension for life. At noon tomorrow on WNTR radio (1050 AM), financial planner Paul Yurachek talks about who should take the payments, who should not and why. People

Census Bureau's Vestah Blye retires today after 43 years of service. Although the Morgan State University graduate started with the War Department, most of her time has been with Census. One of her favorite retirement gifts: an autographed picture of actor Kirk Douglas, a high school classmate in Amsterdam, N.Y.

Charles "Stan" Stanislav retires this month after 30 years with the federal government. He's been with the Merit Systems Protection Board since it started. Before that he was with the Civil Service Commission's appeals review board.