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Retirement Income Builder

Find out everything you need to know about the defined benefit part of USS

Every member builds their pension benefits here

When you and your employer start contributing to USS, you automatically begin to build benefits in the Retirement Income Builder, the defined benefit part, on your salary up to the salary threshold.

Each year you’ll pay in 9.8% of your annual salary and your employer will put in 21.6%*. From this, you’ll get a pension of 1/85 of your salary (up to the salary threshold), plus a one-off cash lump sum of three times your pension. What you build up will also go up in line with USS standard pension increases.

If you earn above the salary threshold, you’ll also build up a flexible savings pot in the Investment Builder – the defined contribution part. The two parts work together as a hybrid pension, giving you the best of both worlds.

To get an idea of what this actually looks like, see what your pension might look like. You'll also be able to see information about what happens if your employer offers salary sacrifice too.

What you get with the Retirement Income Builder

  • Tax relief on your contributions
  • A guaranteed income for life once you retire
  • A one-off cash lump sum (which is tax-free up to a certain limit) of three times your pension
  • Ill health benefits if you have to stop working because of a long-term sickness
  • Life cover while you’re paying in to USS and a pension for your spouse or civil partner/dependants when you die
  • The option to save more by making additional contributions to the Investment Builder.

*Contribution rate for the next two years, until April 2024 when it will fall to 21.4%. This contribution rate is subject to the outcome of future valuations.

How soon can you start taking your pension?

You can start accessing 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.

You may wish to fully retire, or flexibly retire by taking a percentage of your benefits and continuing to work and make contributions. Find out more about your options.

You’ll need to speak to your employer about retiring first.

Making your pension right for you

Once you retire, you’ll get an income for life and a one-off, tax-free (up to a certain limit) cash lump sum of three times your pension. You can choose to have a higher monthly income and a lower cash lump sum – or vice versa. It’s up to you.

There’s a limit on the amount of benefits that can be taken as tax-free cash. We’ll tell you this limit when we send you your retirement quote. To see how taking more or less tax-free cash might affect you, use our Benefit Calculator in My USS.

If you have Investment Builder savings too, these can be used alongside your retirement income in a way that suits you. Or you could take them before or after you retire.

To find out more about what to do when you're ready to take your benefits and/or savings, see taking your benefits and savings.

Got a question?