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Important information about USS and your pension

Essential details of how the scheme works and what it means to be a member

USS membership

Eligibility for USS membership varies between employers but usually all employees of a particular grade can join. This includes members who work part-time and those on fixed-term or regular/variable-time contracts. If you’re working for a USS employer and are eligible to join USS, you can join until the day before your 75th birthday.

Membership is voluntary. However, the government’s auto enrolment legislation means most members will automatically join the scheme and if you don’t want to be a USS member you’ll have to actively opt out once you’ve joined. In specific circumstances, for example if you’re on a variable-time contract, you may not join automatically. If you’re unsure, speak to the USS pensions contact at your employer.

Transferring benefits in and out of USS

You can transfer savings from any pension scheme that has been registered with HM Revenue & Customs into USS. This includes most workplace schemes as well as personal pensions.

You may also be able to transfer benefits you have in recognised overseas pension arrangements into USS. However, it’s not possible to transfer State Pension benefits into USS.

If you’re leaving or have already left USS, you may be able to transfer your USS benefits to another registered pension scheme or recognised overseas pension scheme.

Costs and benefits that come with USS membership

USS provides a way to save for your future, with contributions from both you and your employer. You may also be eligible for a range of other benefits.

Accessing your USS benefits and savings

Understand more about when you can normally take your Retirement Income Builder (defined benefit) pension, and what happens if you wish to retire earlier or later than this; or if you need to apply for early retirement due to ill health.

If you also have savings in the Investment Builder (defined contribution), you’ll have options to take these before or after you retire, or at the same time.

The small print

Government legislation requires that all pension schemes provide members with certain essential information.

How to get in touch with USS

If you’re in employment at an institution contributing to USS, please contact your employer’s pension team in the first instance to discuss any questions you have. If you’re not sure how to contact your pension team, let us know using the following contact details and we can put you in touch.

Important note

Unless expressly stated otherwise, the content of this website and any factsheets and guidance issued by the trustee are for general guidance only. They are not legal documents and do not explain all situations or eventualities. If there is any difference between this publication and the trust deed and rules the latter shall prevail. Members are advised to check with their employer contact for the latest information regarding the scheme, and any changes that may have occurred to its rules and benefits.

If you want to seek guidance or take financial advice on the options available to you, visit the guidance and financial advice page. You’ll find a range of resources to support your planning and you can also find information on how to access an independent financial adviser.

Visit our glossary for help with understanding pension terms.