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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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com.
Please do not include personal identifiers apart from your USS pensioner number and surname. Note we cannot accept change of address or information regarding dependants or beneficiaries via email, and require a signed from. These are held on the Forms page of the website.
No. You may not assign or charge your USS benefits or use them as security for a loan.
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
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
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.
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 10 years 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).
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.
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.
All your contributions, including any 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 £40,000 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 and then at 31 March at the end of the next 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 currently £1.25 million. To exceed the £1.25 million limit you would need service in USS of 40 years and a salary of about £108,000 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.
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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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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