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How your pension works

Find out about the Retirement Income Builder and the Investment Builder, and how they work together

There are two parts to your pension that work together

There’s the Retirement Income Builder, the defined benefit (DB) part, which gives you a guaranteed income in retirement. Then there’s the Investment Builder, the defined contribution (DC) part, which gives you a flexible savings pot for your future. Together, they make USS a hybrid pension.

Watch our short video for an overview of your pension and how the two parts of USS work side by side.

Let's take a look at both parts

  • Retirement Income Builder

    What you pay in and what you get

    You and your employer contribute on your salary up to the salary threshold, and you get tax relief on what you put in. You’ll build up benefits each year, which give you a guaranteed income for life and a one-off cash lump sum when you retire, as well as other benefits, like life cover and ill health cover.

    Watch our video on how you build benefits in this part.


    Which part you're in

    Every single one of our members builds benefits here. So, if you’re paying in, you’ll be building Retirement Income Builder benefits each year.


    When and how you can take them

    There are different things you can access depending on your age. You can start taking your Retirement Income Builder benefits in full from the Normal Pension Age (NPA). You can take them earlier than this, but your benefits will be reduced as they’ll be paid out for longer.

    See your options at different ages and stages to find out more. And to see the various ways you can actually take your money, visit taking your benefits and savings.


    How they’re invested

    USS Investment Management Limited makes all our investment decisions for the Retirement Income Builder to guarantee future pensions. Investing responsibly forms a big part of what they do to protect and enhance the value of our investments for the long-term.

  • Investment Builder

    What you pay in and what you get

    You and your employer contribute on your salary above the salary threshold and, just like the Retirement Income Builder, you get tax relief on what you put in. Your contributions build a flexible savings pot for your future. You can use this alongside your guaranteed income from the Retirement Income Builder.


    Which part you're in

    You’ll have savings here if:

    • you earn above the salary threshold
    • you’re making additional contributions to save more
    • you’ve transferred your pension over from another scheme since 2016 (this includes if you’ve switched your Money Purchase AVCs).

    When and how you can take them

    You don’t need to wait until you take your Retirement Income Builder benefits to access your Investment Builder pot, so you’ve got more flexibility. Once you turn 55 (rising to 57 in 2028), you could take what you’ve saved as cash, use it to get an extra monthly income, carry on investing or you can do a combination of these things – it’s up to you.

    Visit using your Investment Builder pot for more information.


    How they’re invested

    In the Investment Builder, you can choose how and where your savings are invested, including ethical options. The value of your pot can go up or down, depending on how your investments perform.

Managing your pension

There are a few things you need to do to get the most out of your pension. Find out more on managing your hybrid pension or visit our Retirement Income Builder and Investment Builder pages for more information on the two parts of USS.

Understand what you pay

Take a look at what you’ll pay for some examples of how much you’ll put in each month, how much you could build up, and the impact of tax relief on your take-home pay.

You can estimate the monthly cost to you based on your annual salary using our Benefit Illustrator. Just visit the future cost to you tab. You’ll see how much you’ll save in tax each month too.

  • View your benefits and savings in My USS

    Log in or register for My USS to see what you’ve built up and make investment choices that are right for you.