Most years, federal retirees, whose pensions are linked to inflation, get higher percentage January increases than do federal workers, whose pay increases are based on political and budgetary considerations.

For example, this year retirees got a 4.7 percent raise. Federal workers got 3.6 percent. Next January, retirees are due a minimum 4.9 percent cost-of-living adjustment. Federal workers will get a 3.5 percent raise. Same pattern, only the gap is wider.

A higher percentage raise for retirees is misleading because it is applied to a much lower base. Federal pensions here are less than half what the average government worker makes. Even so, some workers are thinking that the smart thing to do is to retire and cash in on the higher percentage pension increase.

Unfortunately for them, Congress thought of the same thing years ago and decided that people can't have it both ways. It prorated the cost-of-living adjustments so that retirees get their first increase only for the period they were retired. For example:

If you had retired in January of this year, you would get eleven-twelfths of the 1991 cost-of-living adjustment in January. If your pension started in February, you would get ten-twelfths of the adjustment, and so on. Workers retiring next month would be entitled to only one-twelfth of the adjustment. You can't beat the system.

Bolling/Andrews Alumni

The civilian society of Bolling and Andrews Air Force bases will have its 11th annual reunion dinner Oct. 20 at Bolling's NCO Club. For details, call Ernest Mittendorff at 703-971-1798 or Earnest Kiraly at 301-420-5877.Retiree Update

Sandra Fiske, staff director of the Federal Government Service Task Force, will speak at 1 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Wheaton-Glenmont chapter of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees. The meeting is at the Wheaton regional library. Call Mel Banks at 301-649-2672.

The association's Bethesda-Chevy Chase chapter will hear from candidates in Maryland's 8th Congressional District and from several

state and local government candidates at 1 p.m. Oct. 12 at Bethesda United Methodist Church. For details, call Don Biglin at 301-530-1498.People

Janet Norwood, commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has been elected to the board of trustees of the National Academy of Public Administration. She will succeed Metro General Manager Carmen E. Turner, who is taking a top job with the Smithsonian Institution.1991 Health Premiums

Several workers and retirees have called to ask when the new health insurance premiums appeared here. The listing of the fee-for-service plans (Blue Cross-Blue Shield, GEHA, etc.) ran here Sept. 24. The 1991 premiums for local health maintenance organizations ran here Monday. Your local public library will have copies of those papers, or you can buy them at the front counter of The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW.