One in eight people are forced to stop work before state pension age because of ill health or disability, new research reveals.
Almost half a million workers within five years of pension age have had to leave their job for medical reasons, according to the TUC.
Regional differences were discovered, affecting one in four people in Northern Ireland leaving work early because of sickness or disability, compared with one in 13 in the South West of England.
Workers in lower paid jobs such as cleaning or those in heavy manual jobs are twice as likely as managers or professional staff to stop working before retirement age due to sickness or disability, said the TUC.
General secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Raising the state pension age is an easy target for chancellors of the exchequer wanting to make stealth cuts.
"But these figures show that we must hold off on any further rises in the pension age until we have worked out how to support the one in eight workers who are too ill to work before they even get to state pension age.
"People should be able to retire in dignity with a decent pension when the time is right. Older workers have a crucial role to play in the labour market but we can't expect the sick to wait longer to get a pension when they may need financial support more than ever."
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "We regularly review the state pension age to make sure the system is fair, sustainable and affordable for the taxpayer.
"Our welfare system already provides a range of support for people of all ages who are unable to work due to illness or disability."