Ministers want to stamp out abuse of the system and cut a bill that is costing taxpayers£1bn a year.
A report to be published by Andrew Smith, chief secretary to the Treasury, will show that there are a third more retirements in the public sector than in private business.
It will also highlight wide variations in early retirement rates across the public sector and within different parts of the service. It will also suggest that rules are being enforced in a lax way.
Today's report will propose:
that ill-health retirement should be granted only if an employee is 'incapable' of working until normal pensionable age;
that the medical assessment carried out before a person can retire early should be applied with much more 'consistency and rigour';
assessments should ideally be carried out at 'arm's length' by doctors from outside the service;
workers unfit for operational duties should be redeployed to less stressful work.
A government source said: 'No one is saying that ill-health retirement should not be available for genuine cases. This government is on the side of the taxpayer and those who depend on the public services and it determined to look after their interests as well.
'At the moment it costs£1bn a year. We are determined to cut the bill and get the money where it is needed most - in frontline services. If the retirement rate is one in 10 in one authority and nine out of 10 in another, there must be huge scope for improvement.'