James S. Brady, who remained on the government payroll as Ronald Reagan's press secretary for nearly eight years after being severely wounded in an assassination attempt, is retiring.

White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said this week that, before his inauguration, President Bush talked with Brady's wife, Sarah, about the former press secretary's retirement plans."At the end of the (Reagan) administration, he and Sarah had put together a retirement program . . . from a number of various outlets," Fitzwater said.

Brady, 48, who has held a variety of government jobs since coming to Washington in 1968 as a communications consultant to the House, is entitled to a government pension.

He was shot in the head on March 30, 1981, during an attempt on Reagan's life, and uses a wheelchair.

Reagan kept him in the title of press secretary and he continued to receive his salary of $89,500 per year as an assistant to the president.

He reported to the White House about one day a week to visit with associates, sign autographs and pose for pictures.

Deputy Press Secretary Larry Speakes became the chief White House spokesman with the title of principal deputy press secretary. When Speakes resigned in 1987, Fitzwater was named spokesman with the title of assistant to the president for press relations.

In announcing on Nov. 29 that he would retain Fitzwater as his spokesman, then-Vice President Bush restored to him the traditional title of press secretary.

Asked at that time whether Brady would have a role in the new administration, Fitzwater said, "I know the vice president is very interested in Jim and concerned about his well-being" and that Bush and his advisers "have some ideas of things they would like him to do."

When asked about this again on Monday, Fitzwater said that before his inauguration Bush "talked to Sarah about it, and so did I, and a number of people are interested in putting together whatever they would like to do."