The State Pension Age reached 66 last October, yet the latest ONS figures show the impact of the sharp rise in pension age in recent years, according to Baroness Altmann.
Women in the poorest areas have an expected healthy life only to age 51.4 and men to 52.3, while in the better off areas, men and women stay healthy into their early 70s - a 20 year gap.
The pensions campaigner said: “The rationale for rising State Pension Age is based on increases in average life expectancy across the UK in past years. However, average life expectancy masks an enormous difference between regions, occupations and social groups.
“The most recent ONS figures show an almost 20-year differential in healthy life expectancy in the UK, with least deprived areas having very different health outcomes.
"As we strive to level up the UK, the delay in starting state pension adds to the problems faced by the less-advantaged groups who may never receive any State Pension because of their shorter life expectancy, or may be forced to work despite failing health, as they are forced to wait longer and longer for their State Pension start date.”
The state pension system currently makes no allowance for health differentials between regions and occupations.
As disadvantaged groups mainly rely on the state pension for their income, Baroness Altmann warned that this further disadvantages those people in poor health who have little or no private pension to supplement their National Insurance state pension.
Those who are healthy and wealthy can also get a higher state pension by delaying their start date.
With the Coronavirus pandemic damaging the employment prospects and health of many over-60s, Baroness Altmann has called for early access to the state pension.
She said the pandemic had strengthened the case for considering a more flexible age range for starting state pension payments.
She said: “The pandemic has hit over-60s employment hard, and also damaged their health or forced them into caring for loved ones. Many are unlikely to be able to work again. Those without a private pension – especially women – need their pension early but cannot receive anything, even if they have seriously shortened life expectancy. Allowing early access, even at a reduced rate, could offer a lifeline, rather than the unrealistic reliance on out-of-work benefits.
“This is about social justice, as well as social support – flexible age range would be more equitable.”