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FAQs 


  • Where do I go to with queries, including changing my personal details?

    First contact the person who deals with pension matters where you work.  If you still need help, get in touch with us directly: Universities Superannuation Scheme, Royal Liver Building, Liverpool L3 1PY. Email: postbox@uss.co.uk. Tel. 0151 227 4711 or 0845 068 1110 (local rate call charge number) Fax: 0151 236 3173.

    Please tell your employer, or us, about any address changes or other personal details so that our records are accurate and so there is no delay in our communications with you.

    If you are receiving a pension from USS, you can email the payroll department directly through payroll@uss.co.uk.

    Please do not include personal identifiers apart from your USS pensioner number and surname. Note we cannot accept change of address or information regarding dependents or beneficiaries via email, and require a signed from. These are held on the Forms page of the website.


  • I have a formal complaint. How will this be dealt with and what is the disputes procedure?

  • Which section of the scheme am I eligible for?
    New joiners after 30 September 2011 – If you have never been in USS before and you joined the scheme after 30 September 2011 then you will be eligible for the Career Revalued Benefits section.
     
    Members of the scheme on 1 October 2011 - If you are paying into the scheme on 1 October 2011 and have not had a break in membership then you will remain a member of the Final Salary section.If you leave the Final Salary section after 30 September 2011 and rejoin the scheme within 30 months of leaving you will still be eligible for the Final Salary section.
     
    Those who have left/leave the scheme before 1 October 2011 – If you have already left/leave the scheme before 1 October 2011 and have deferred benefits in USS you can rejoin as a Final Salary member until 31 March 2014. If you rejoin USS after that date it will be as part of the Career Revalued Benefits section and your benefits within the Final Salary section will remain deferred.

  • What about the benefits for part-timers and people who work irregularly for a USS institution? Can they join?
    Part-time employees are automatically eligible to join USS if you meet the normal membership criteria. You may also be able to join USS if you are employed irregularly, if your employer agrees. To qualify as this kind of employee (what we call “variable time”) your pay must not be based on a fixed annual or part-time basis. You are not automatically made a USS member if you fit into this category.  You must ask to join.
    USS takes the final decision as to whether someone is a “variable time” employee or not. For more information go to the factsheet for the appropriate section of the scheme titled ‘Variable Time Employees’.
     

  • Who can be members of USS? How do I join?
    USS membership is voluntary but, because of the high quality benefits, it is assumed you will join unless you say otherwise in writing before you start work.  But you can, of course, change your mind and withdraw without penalty, if you do so with 3 months of joining.
     
    You are usually automatically eligible to join USS if you meet the normal membership criteria. This includes part-timers.  For more information go to question "What about the benefits for part-timers and people who work irregularly for a USS institution?”. Check with your employer directly about USS membership status.

  • Is it worth it, if I’m not staying long? Am I locked in if I leave or change my mind? Do I get back what I’ve put in?
    Every month your employer currently pays a sum equal to 16% of your salary to USS. If you are a Career Revalued Benefits member you contribute 6.5% of your monthly salary. A Final Salary member contributes 7.5%.
    So after only a short time this has a value.  Remember, as a USS member you get immediate life insurance cover at no extra cost. You also pay lower compulsory National Insurance contributions towards the government’s State Second Pension scheme.
     
    If after joining USS, and later deciding to change your mind, you can simply stop paying in, just give 28 days notice to your employer.
    If you change jobs, and/or leave USS, you won’t lose the value of all the contributions put into the scheme.  If you move to another USS participating institution, which means most UK universities, your membership is simply transferred and your benefits continue.
    You have three choices as to what to do if you stop being a member of USS.
     
    Option 1

    If you leave USS within two years of joining, you can usually get a cash refund of your contributions, less certain tax and National Insurance deductions required by law.
     
    Option 2

    Just leave everything in USS as a “deferred pension benefit”, payable when you retire. Meanwhile, it will continue to increase in value in line with official pensions For service after 30 September 2011 USS matches 50% of any increase to official pensions above 5%  to a limit of 10% in any year. So, if official pensions increased by 15% the USS increase would be 10% in that year. You may be paid the benefits earlier then when you would normally retire e.g. through permanent incapacity.
     
    Option 3

    Simply transfer the full cash value of your USS benefits straight into another approved pension arrangement e.g. a new employer’s scheme, a personal or stakeholder pension or a buy-out policy.
     
    Note: If you leave after you have been a USS member for longer than two years, you cannot take a cash refund.  You can only choose between options 2 and 3 above.
     
    For financial details and calculations go to the leaving the scheme page of the relevant section of the scheme.
     
     
    Career Revalued Benefits leaving the scheme page.
     
    You can usually move your USS pension benefits to an overseas scheme. Transfers from overseas pension schemes may also be possible.  For more information, please contact USS.

  • What are the detailed benefits of being a member and who runs USS?
    USS is one of the largest pension schemes in the country with assets of many billions. It was established in 1975 by the university sector collectively to provide high quality pensions and peace of mind protection for employees.
    There are, therefore, no shareholders and no dividends to pay out.  There are no commission or set-up administration charges and no exit fees to pay if you transfer your pension somewhere else. USS exists solely for the benefit of its members.
    The 12-strong board of trustee directors of USS include employer, employee and independent representatives, acting impartially to protect the rights and interests of members.
     
    They are supported by a professional executive and external pension and investment advisers.
    Benefits vary depending on factors such as age, but include, subject to USS’s discretion:
     
    1. Retirement pension: A tax-free lump sum and pension for the rest of your life.  On your death, during retirement, there would continue to be a pension for your husband/wife/civil partner/dependent partner. For you spouse/civil partner this would be equivalent to half the value of your standard pension when you retired, plus pension increases applied at date of death. If you are not married, nor part of a civil partnership a pension may be payable to a financial dependant, this is at the discretion of the trustee company.
    In addition, under certain circumstances, including if you die within 5 years of retirement, a tax-free lump sum may be payable. Subject to USS approval, financial payments for eligible children are also available if they are up to age 18, or up to age 23 if they in approved full-time education or training. Children who are mentally or physically incapable of supporting themselves may qualify to receive a pension, regardless of their age.
     
    2. Illness/injury incapacity cover:  If you cannot continue working because of long-term illness or injury, you may get a pension for life and a tax-free lump sum.  The amounts you would receive depend on whether you have stopped work on the grounds of partial or total incapacity. To qualify for this benefit you must have been a USS member for a minimum of two years in aggregate. Special conditions apply to members if they were known to have a medical condition when they joined USS.
     
    3. Immediate protection for your family or dependents:  Life cover from day one of your membership. A tax-free lump sum of three times your annual salary if you die in service at any time, plus a pension for your husband/wife/civil partner/dependent partner. 
    For a spouse/civil partner this pension would be equivalent to half the pension you could have built up at age 65.
    If you are a member of either section and are not married, nor part of a civil partnership a pension may be payable to a financial dependant. This is at the discretion of the trustee company.
    The lump sum in such cases is not subject to inheritance tax. There would also be support payments for eligible children, normally up to age 18, or up to age 23 in approved full-time education or training and agreed by USS, or physically/mentally incapable of being self supporting.
     
    4. Early retirement: You can retire and start receiving your pension before the scheme’s normal pension age, depending on circumstances.  For more information go to question: What are the benefit arrangements for normal, early and late retirement?
     
    5. Job Mobility: The USS pension scheme provides for the various employment patterns of people working in the academic world, including career breaks. Moving from one USS member institution to another is particularly straightforward, as is transferring your pension arrangements to many public sector organisations.  For more information go to questions: Is it worth it, if I’m not staying long? Am I locked in if I leave or change my mind? Do I get back what I’ve put in?
     
    6: Nominating your beneficiaries: It is vital that you nominate your dependants/beneficiaries who you want to receive benefits when you die.  Keep this information up to date by filling in an Expression of Wish form.
     
    Additionally, if you are not married, nor part of a registered civil partnership you may wish to nominate a financial dependant to receive the equivalent of the spouse’s/civil partner’s pension. Please complete a Registration of Potential Dependant form to register a financial dependant.
     
    7: Flexible retirement: The ability to draw up to 80% of your benefits but remain in employment, albeit with a minimum reduction to your hours of 20%.

  • Where could I go to for financial advice?
    Please go to the relevant financial advice page.
     
     

  • What are the advantages and costs of USS membership compared to other pension schemes?
    Final Salary Section
     
    Your employer provides you with a pension based on your salary close to retirement. This type of scheme is called a final salary scheme. The pensions built up are financed by a fund to which all employers participating in USS contribute. Final salary schemes like USS Final Salary section are regarded as the best type of pension you can get.
    Your pension is worked out using a formula of 1/80th of salary of leaving or retiring for each year of pensionable service.
     
    Career Revalued Benefits Section
     
    Your pension is worked out using a formula of 1/80th of your salary in each year. At the end of each year your pension is added to what you have already built up and the value is then increased over time in line with inflation, but limited to an increase of 10%. This type of scheme is termed ‘defined benefit’.
     
    Advantages & Costs of both sections
     
    Every month your employer pays the most towards your retirement – a sum currently equal to 16% of your salary. Final salary members make a contribution of 7.5% and Career Revalued Benefits members pay 6.5%. All members get tax relief on this amount, reducing the real cost by at least 20%. In addition, you pay lower compulsory National Insurance contributions because you are not paying into the State Second Pension Scheme, and you don’t pay any tax on the cash benefit of your employer’s contribution.
    Your contribution may increase in the future. If there is a requirement to increase the overall contribution rate in USS then any increase is shared at the ratio of 35:65 between members and employers.
    Other company pensions, known as “Money Purchase” or “Defined Contribution” schemes are different.  While employers and employees also both usually pay into these plans, the pitfall is that you take the risk that there will finally be sufficient money in it for a decent pension.  Your retirement income depends on the ups and downs of the stock exchange and how financial markets are performing just at the time you decide to stop work.

  • Can I assign my USS benefits?

    No.  You may not assign or charge your USS benefits or use them as security for a loan.


  • What are the detailed conditions for early ill-health or injury retirement?

    To be eligible for a pension on the grounds of partial or total incapacity, you must be under age 65, a USS member for an aggregate of two years and, in the opinion of your employer, suffering from long-term sickness or infirmity.  This is a complex subject.

    Please go to the USS factsheet on Incapacity retirement in the relevant section of the scheme for more information.

    Final Salary Incapacity retirement factsheet

    Career Revalued Benefits Incapacity retirement factsheet


  • What are the arrangements for moving pension benefits to and from USS, including overseas?
    Moving from one USS member institution to another is particularly straightforward, as is transferring your pension arrangements to many public sector organisations.  If you move to a non-USS employer you can transfer the cash value of your USS benefits straight into another approved pension arrangement e.g. a new employer’s scheme, a personal or stakeholder pension or a buy-out policy.
    Alternatively, you can leave everything where it is in USS. You then become a “deferred pensioner” able to draw your money (tax-free lump sum, plus regular pension) at retirement age.
     
    For more information go to the factsheet ‘Options on Leaving’ in the relevant section of the scheme for details.
     
    Final Salary leaving factsheet
     
    Career Revalued Benefits leaving factsheet
     
    You can usually move your USS pension benefits to an overseas scheme. Transfers from overseas schemes may also be possible. A number of technical formalities and tax issues that will need to be checked are included in our factsheet ‘Transfers to USS’
     
     
    Transfers to USS factsheet - Career Revalued Benefits 
     
    Please also refer to the transfers out page in the relevant section.
     
    Transfers out - Final Salary
     
    Transfers out - Career Revalued Benefits

  • Am I still covered for full benefits during maternity/paternity/family leave?

    During these periods of leave USS members are covered for the usual benefits for which they qualify. Go to the appropriate factsheet for your section entitled ‘Maternity and Family Leave’ for details.

    Final Salary factsheet

    Career Revalued Benefits factsheet


  • What if I become ill and cannot continue working? What happens if I am temporarily absent from work through sickness?
    If you cannot carry on working because of long-term illness or injury, you get a pension for life and a tax-free lump sum, subject to USS eligibility criteria.  To qualify for this cover, you must have been a USS member for a minimum of two years in aggregate.  Special conditions apply if it was known that you had a medical condition when you joined USS.
     
    If you are off work sick or for other reasons outside your control, your employer will normally continue to pay contributions to USS and your own payments to the scheme will also continue based on you receiving your full salary as usual.  If all you are getting is Statutory Sick Pay, you can choose whether or not to contribute to USS.

  • What happens if my marriage or civil partnership ends?
    Your USS benefits may be subject to a Court order requiring USS to set aside part of your retirement and/or death benefits for your former spouse or civil partner.
     
    Legislation in 2000 introduced a new method of dividing pension rights in divorce or annulment of marriage cases.  This has been extended to cover dissolution and annulment of civil partnerships. The options now are:
     
    Offsetting:  Valuing your pension rights along with other matrimonial assets to enable a financial settlement to be reached.
     
    Earmarking: The Court can order that all or part of your pension and lump sum on retirement and/or all or part of the lump sum arising on your death to be paid to your former spouse or civil partner.
     
    Pension sharing: The Court requires USS to value your pension rights at the time of divorce/annulment/dissolution, and to divide your pension providing you and your spouse or civil partner with a “clean break”
     
    USS reserves the right to recover certain costs from you (and, where permitted, your former spouse or civil partner) that are incurred providing information in connection with an impending divorce/annulment/dissolution or complying with a Court order.
     
    Please see the appropriate factsheet for your section entitled ‘Divorce’ for more information.
     
     

  • My salary has dropped, does this mean my benefits will be less?

    The answer depends on the situation

    Moving to part-time employment

    If you work part-time it simply means you will build up service more slowly. If you were 50% of full-time then for each calendar year in the scheme you would build up half a year of Pensionable Service. However, the salary used in your final Pensionable Salary calculation would be its full-time equivalent. So, if your actual part-time salary was £20,000, then the full-time equivalent (based on 50% part-time) would be £40,000 pa.

    Example: Member has worked 30 years at full-time and 10 years at 50%. Part-time salary is £20,000pa

    Calendar-length service = 40 years

    Pensionable service = (30 years X 100%) + (10 years X 50%)= 35 years

    Pensionable salary £40,000 pa

    Benefits are a pension of:-

    35 years X 1/80 X £40,000 = £17,500.00pa

    Plus tax-free cash of:-

    3 X £17,500 = £52,500.00

    I’ve taken a lower paid position

    Potentially your benefits will be less, however there is an element of protection in USS because of the way in which we calculate your final Pensionable Salary:-

    Pensionable salary is the better of:-

    1. Your highest salary for any period of 12 complete months during the last 3 years, and

    2. The highest yearly average for any 3 consecutive years dating back 13 years from your cessation date.

    Salary in these calculations (except for the final 12 months) is the salary revalued up to date of leaving/retirement by the increase in the Retail Prices Index.

    So, it depends how long ago the salary drop occurs before the date you leave or retire that will determine if any of that higher salary is used in the pensionable salary calculation.

    My salary has not kept pace with price inflation

    Again, because in our pensionable salary calculation we use salaries revalued in line with the Retail Prices Index, your pensionable salary does keep pace with Retail Price Inflation, even if your actual salary does not.


  • If I take a drop in salary is there a way I can lock in my higher, earlier salary for pension purposes?

    Yes there is, but you need to work out if you would be better simply relying on the pensionable salary definition.

    Under what’s called the ‘salary reduction’ rule, a current contributing member can, within the last 10years of the scheme’s Normal Pension Age, elect to have their earlier, higher salary included within the pensionable salary calculation. You will of course pay contributions on this higher salary. You should contact the Pensions Officer at your institution and refer to ‘Schedule 6’ of the USS rules for more information.

    Consecutive salaries dating back 13 years from your eventual date of retirement will be included in the calculation of your pensionable salary and all salaries which fall outside the final 12 months of employment will be revalued by the increase in the Retail Prices Index (RPI).

    Example

    Member joins USS aged 58. At age 60 he experiences a drop in salary from £70,000pa to £50,000pa, part-time service fraction 100% throughout. Retirement takes place at age 62.

    Pensionable salary calculations based on actual salaries:

    a) £54,908 best year out of the final 3

    b) £70,270 best average 3 years from the final 10 years

    Pensionable salary calculation had the ‘salary reduction’ rule been invoked:

    a) £76,872 best year out of the final 3

    b) £76,319 best average 3 years from the final 10 years

    Invoking the salary reduction rule in this example would result in a higher pensionable salary overall, however, as the actual higher salaries are within 10 years of date of retirement they still have an impact on the calculation of benefits in normal circumstances.

    Death benefits

    The death-in-service lump sum is based on your annual Salary at the point of death. If you have invoked the salary reduction rule, the cover will be based on your higher salary. If you are part-time it will be based on your actual part-time salary.

    Income benefits for your beneficiaries will be based on your full-time equivalent pensionable salary at the point you died.

    Non-standard salary decreases

    This means a situation where it appears a manipulation in salary has taken place in order to reduce the level of contributions paid to USS, in the knowledge that within the last 13 years of membership the higher level of salary will count in the pensionable salary calculation.

    Where USS determines this has happened USS may disregard this non-standard decrease and require the employer/member to compensate the fund by making such additional contributions as required to meet the loss to the fund as a result of the non-standard decrease.


  • What are AVCs? What are my choices to boost my pension?
    AVCs are Additional Voluntary Contributions. As the name implies they are extra payments that you can make, either regularly or periodically, to boost your retirement pension.  You get tax relief on them at the highest rate of income tax for which you are liable.  You are strongly advised to take appropriate financial advice but note that this cannot be given by USS.  For more information please see the financial advice page.
     
     
     
    Options for Career Revalued Benefit members

    There are two types of AVC: “Career Revalued Benefits AVCs” enable you to buy additional benefits in USS (pension and tax free cash) or you can choose a different “Money Purchase” investment plan.
     
    Options for Final Salary members

    There are two types of  AVC: “Added Years AVCs” enable you to buy additional years of service in USS which is a final salary type of arrangement or you can choose a different “Money Purchase” investment plan.
     
    For more information about AVCs go to the AVC factsheet in the appropriate section.
     
     
     
    Final salary members can also refer to, our Pensions TV programme “Increasing your Retirement Benefits”.

  • My employer has a “salary sacrifice” arrangement. How does this fit in with USS?
    Please refer to the salary sacrifice factsheet appropriate to the section of the scheme you are a member of.
     
    Career Revalued Benefits Salary sacrifice factsheet
     
    Salary sacrifice factsheet for the Final Salary section

  • What are the main tax features of the USS?

    All your contributions, including and Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) which you make to boost the value of your pension are currently eligible for tax relief at your highest marginal rate.

    However, there are limits to the amount of pension you can build up in a tax-efficient way. There is an annual limit called the Annual Allowance (AA) and a limit on retirement called the Lifetime Allowance (LTA).

    The AA is currently £50,000 a year. To estimate how close you are you need to work out how much your pension has grown each year, first work out your pension on 1 April 2011 and then at 31 March at the end of the year, based on your pensionable service and pensionable salary at those dates. Then deduct the figure at the end of the year from the figure at the start and multiply the result by 19.

    The LTA is £1.8 million until April 2012 when it decreases to £1.5 million. To exceed the £1.5 million limit you would need service in USS of 40 years and a salary of about £130,000 pa.

    For full details on the limits please see the ‘Tax limits’ factsheet.

    See this link for more information.

    Tax is payable on all pensions in payment, unless your inspector of taxes advises us otherwise.

    Back to the top


  • Can I pay more and plan for an earlier retirement and get a bigger pension?
    You can plan for early retirement in a tax-efficient way by boosting the value of your pension by making what are known as Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs), either regularly or periodically.
     
    Options for Career Revalued Benefit members
    There are two types of  AVC: “Career Revalued Benefits AVCs” enable you to buy additional pension in USS or you can choose a different “Money Purchase” investment plan.
    Options for Final Salary members
    There are two types of  AVC: “Added Years AVCs” enable you to buy additional years of service in USS which is a final salary type of arrangement or you can choose a different “Money Purchase” investment plan.
    You should take appropriate financial advice. For more AVC information go to the  AVC factsheet in the appropriate section of the website and the financial advice page. Please note that USS is unable to provide financial advice.
     

  • Do I need to include AVC payments on my Self Assessment tax return?

    AVC payments to any of the USS AVC facilities are deducted from your gross pay before tax is applied. You therefore receive tax relief at source, in exactly the same way as your normal USS contributions. Currently, you do not have to include details of these AVC payments on your self assessment form if you are required to complete one of these. However, if you make payments yourself to an external policy, for example a Free-Standing AVC or Personal Pension, then you do need to include those contributions on the assessment form. See the HMRC website for further details.


  • Information regarding the effect of strike action on members of USS

    Employers do not have to pay pension contributions during any period an employee is on strike and on the assumption you are not paid during any strike days you will not pay any contributions, unless you have made arrangements with your employer in advance of the strike action, as detailed below.

    If contributions are not paid in full for each day of industrial action then a number of significant problems arise in relation to continued membership of USS. Without payment of contributions such days would be treated as days of “suspended membership” with loss of service and importantly loss of life cover on these days.

    There would also be an impact on members who are currently paying monthly added years additional voluntary contributions. We will recognise continuity of current contracts as it is not our intention to terminate any existing contract in these circumstances but each day's loss of additional contributions will be reflected in final benefits unless the full AVC contribution is made.

    It is possible, with your employer’s agreement, to pay a sum equal to the employee and employer contribution and receive full credit for the day's absence and continue to have full life cover. Any member wishing to do this must inform their employer in writing before the absence takes place.

    Further information concerning this option can be obtained from your normal pensions contact at your institution.

    Please remember it is up to your employer to choose if they wish to maintain your contributions during any period of strike action.


  • Where do I go to find information on tax relief and USS tax options?
    Information regarding tax relief and the USS tax options can be found on the tax relief limits pages in the relevant section of the scheme.

    Final Salary tax relief limits page

    Career Revalued Benefits tax relief limits page

    Final Salary Section scheme members can also view a series of FAQs on tax relief and tax options.

    Tax relief FAQs

    Tax Options FAQs


  • What is the USS Pension Schemes Tax Reference (PSTR) number?
    You may be asked for the PSTR number if you are completing a return to HMRC. This number, for USS, is 00330004RR.

  • I have a tax code query. Where do I go?

    If you are receiving a pension from USS, contact: HM Revenue & Customs, Pay As You Earn, P O Box 1970, Liverpool, L75 1WX Tel: 0300 200 3300 quoting tax reference 428/U168 along with your national insurance number.


  • How will my retirement pension be paid in the UK or if I move abroad?
    Your pension is paid securely into your bank or building society on the 21st of each month, using the automated Bankers Automated Clearing Service (BACS) transfer system.
    If the normal payment date falls on a weekend or bank holiday, your money will be paid earlier on the last working day prior to the 21st.
    If you move overseas all your USS benefits stay exactly the same.
    You will need to keep a UK bank or building society account into which we can pay your monthly pension using the BACS system. If you move abroad and wish your pension payments to go direct to your overseas bank then USS utilises Citibank’s Worldlink Payment Services and further information can be obtained on request from our pensions payroll section.
    Please note that there may be other methods of transferring your pension payments overseas so it may be advisable for you to explore the market.

  • Will I get a payslip?
    In April each year we send a payslip to all pensioners, but in subsequent months they are only produced on a change only basis i.e. where the net pay in a particular month is different to the amount paid in the preceding month by £1.00 or more.

  • How to update my bank, address or other personal details?
    is very important that you notify USS of any changes to your surname, personal details, bank or address so that your pension can be paid. There is a change of details form available which you can complete online but you must print it off and sign it before sending it to USS.
    Final salary members change in details form
     
    Career Revalued Benefits section members change in details form
     
    Alternatively, please confirm any change in your details to us by letter. Please ensure your pension number or national insurance number is shown and your letter is signed. Please see the contact page for our address.
    We would recommend that you leave your existing bank account open until you receive written notification from us that we have amended our records.
     
    Please also note, your bank account for receipt of your USS pension must be maintained wholly or jointly in the name of the recipient. Please include your account name in your letter.

  • For how long will my pension be paid?
    Your pension will be paid for the rest of your life.  If you die and leave a spouse or civil partner their pensions are payable for the rest of their lives. If you are not married, nor part of a civil partnership a pension may be payable to a financial dependant, this is at the discretion of the trustee company.
    If there are eligible children any pension paid to them is payable until their 18th birthday or up to age 23 if they remain in full-time education or approved training.

  • How will my USS retirement pension and lump sum be calculated?
    We calculate the money you will get on retirement using two sets of figures - what we call your “pensionable service” and also your “pensionable salary”.
    Normally, your pensionable service is simply the number of years and days that you have worked as a USS member with one or more USS employers.
    We work out your pensionable salary according to a “best years” earnings formula – smoothing out any adverse ups and downs in your salary over the years.
    This is how it works:  we determine your salary for each period of 12 months that you have been a USS member, over a maximum time of 13 years before your retirement, and revalue each salary, except the last 12 months, currently using the Retail Prices Index  measure of inflation.
    Your pensionable salary is whatever comes out best -  either the highest revalued annual salary during the last three years or your highest revalued salary averaged across any three consecutive “best years” over the last 13 years.
    The actual amount of pension you get is calculated as an eightieth of your pensionable salary multiplied by your years of pensionable service.
    You have the freedom to choose not to take some or all of your tax-free lump sum cash and get a higher pension.  Or take more cash and get a lower pension.
    The retirement income you get from USS is, of course, in addition to your state pension or any benefits you may also be entitled to from the state social security system. Tax is payable on all pensions, unless your tax inspector tells us otherwise.

  • What are the benefit arrangements for early and late retirement? Can I carry on working after retirement?
    The exact amount of your retirement benefits depend on your individual circumstances, your contract of employment and your employer’s policies.
    Early retirement: There is flexibility, under certain circumstances, within the USS scheme for you to retire before the scheme’s normal retirement age. But if you are a CRB member your pension will be lower, approximately 4% for each year and part-year earlier than 65. If you are a Final Salary member your pension may be lower depending on individual circumstance. 
    If your employer makes you redundant or asks you to retire early then you are also entitled to your pension. Until October 2014 if your employer makes you redundant then your employer pays extra funds to the scheme to ensure you receive the full pension, based on the amount of pension you have built up at that time, but without reductions for early retirement. From October 2014 this commitment will end.
    The earliest age you can retire in the UK is age 55 unless you are made redundant (as defined in the USS rules) and have been contributing to USS continuously since 5 April 2006, in which case you are able to receive a pension from age 50. You can of course receive a pension earlier if you qualify for incapacity retirement benefits.
    However, you can set out to plan for early retirement by boosting the value of your pension by making Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs), either regularly or periodically.  You can also increase your normal pension income in exchange for deciding to take a lower lump sum on retirement, or none at all, or vice versa, depending on your financial circumstances when you stop work. For more information go to questions: Can I pay more and plan for an earlier retirement and get a bigger pension? What are AVCs?
    Late retirement: If you want, you can continue paying into USS beyond normal pension age and build up a bigger pension. There is no upper limit on the years of service you can achieve.
     

    Working after retirement: If you have fully retired (having ceased eligible employment) from USS, and are receiving your pension, you can still get another job, but remember that your total income, including your pension, will be assessed for income tax.

    You would not be deemed to have retired if you intend to commence another job with your current employer, or with any other employer that participates in USS, that is pensionable in USS. If however after you have retired you are subsequently offered new employment your employer may have a duty to enrol you into a pension scheme. You will need to seek advice from your employer as to your eligibility and whether you are able to rejoin USS. Further information can be found in the auto-enrolment section.

    Please note that there are additional conditions attached if you retired from USS on the grounds of incapacity.


  • What pension increases can I expect to get? What exactly do you mean by inflation-proofed? Is everything inflation-proofed?
    USS pensions are reviewed every year in line with ‘official pensions’. Official pensions are public sector pension schemes (NHS, civil service, local councils etc.). Official pensions are increased each April in line with the rise in inflation over the 12 months up to the previous 30 September.
    USS matches increases to Official Pensions for service in either section of USS from 1 October 2011. However, if official pensions increase by more than 5% then 50% of any increase over and above 5% is added to the USS increase, up to an absolute maximum of 10% in any one year. So, if official pensions increased by 15%, the USS increase would be 10% in that year.
    Deferred pensions, which are those left behind in USS after leaving membership, are increased in the same way, with the same applying to benefits from service since 1 October 2011.
    The USS benefits for long-term illness/incapacity retirement or death in service are, in part, funded differently.  In some case elements of them are not guaranteed to be increased in the same way, but to date (since 1975) the board of USS trustee directors have always decided to do so every year.
    Please note: During any periods of deflation, or negative inflation, we will not reduce the value of your pension, but your pension may not increase.