Getting “retirement-ready”: What are my next steps?

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If retirement is just around the corner, you may already have an idea of how you want to spend your time when you’re no longer working. In fact, according to HSBC’s Future of Retirement Global Report, many of us have similar retirement aspirations in mind. These range from the less expensive, with 58% of us wanting to spend more time with friends and family, to the more costly, with 48% aspiring to take frequent holidays.

However, no matter what your retirement aspirations are, it’s important to make sure you’re on track for affording the retirement you want. The same study also revealed that 70% of retirees regret not saving more to realise their retirement aspirations – a problem that can often become apparent a little too late.

To help put you in the best possible position for achieving your later life goals, we’ve outlined a few next steps you can take to make sure you’re retirement ready.


Get to know your pension scheme

If retirement is starting to approach, it's important to make sure you understand your pension scheme and the benefits you will receive.

USS is backed by over 350 employers and a diverse portfolio of assets. We collect almost £2 billion of pension contributions from these organisations in respect of 190,000 active members. It’s the trustee’s role to set a contribution level that will cover the costs of pension promises already made and the cost of providing future pensions to current members, based on detailed projections and analysis.

We also take measured, balanced and collegiate decisions with a view of the next 20 years and beyond. Working together with our in-house investment team we take a strategic approach to investment, protecting and enhancing the value of our investments over the long term.

Want to find out more about how USS is funded?
Take a look at our blog by USS CEO, Bill Galvin, How decisions are made on future pensions for USS.

As a USS member, you can be comfortable in the knowledge that the benefits you’ve already built up in the USS Retirement Income Builder are protected and can be paid to you as a pension and a tax-free lump sum when you retire. If you’re not sure what benefits you’re expected to receive when you retire, you can get an estimate of this based on the benefits you’ve already built up by using the USS benefit illustrator.


Make additional contributions

If you’re able to and think you might want to save more for retirement, you can start making additional contributions (including the match), to your pension via the USS Investment Builder in My USS. Currently, 58% of USS members over the age of 55 already make additional contributions to the USS Investment Builder.

From age 55, you may be able to take the value of your USS Investment Builder account flexibly. As you build up your additional contributions, these savings are invested in your choice of the available investment options. However, if you don't wish to, or do not feel able to, make an investment choice, your investments will be automatically invested in our Default Lifestyle Option, which is designed with USS members in mind.

When selecting your investment options, you can either select the ‘Do It For Me’ option or the ‘Let Me Do It’ option. The ‘Do It For Me’ option gives you a further two choices: the USS Default Lifestyle Option or the USS Ethical Lifestyle Option. The ‘Let Me Do It’ option offers you 10 investment choices to choose from. To learn more about these options and work out which one is right for you, watch our Investment Choices animated guide.

Learn more about how you can make additional pension contributions into the USS Investment Builder.

Update your Target Retirement Age (TRA)

If you’ve been building up funds in the USS Investment Builder, you also have the flexibility of altering your TRA, allowing you to plan for the retirement you want, this is important for members who choose the ‘Do It For Me option’. You can set or update your TRA by logging into My USS and updating your preferences.

If you think that altering your TRA is something you might be interested in, take a look at our retirement decision tree to help you understand what you’ll need, what you’ll be likely to receive and what choices you might want to make as retirement approaches.

You can find out more about all the USS retirement options here.

Prepare for unplanned life events

Although it can be difficult to contemplate your own mortality, making sure your loved ones are looked after in the event of your death can give you peace of mind as you move towards later life.

Your spouse, civil partner, other financial dependants as well as eligible children are covered by a package of protection in the event that you die whilst paying into the scheme. These bereavement benefits are also payable in respect of deferred and pensioner members. You can find out more about this package of protection, and about how to nominate dependants, by reading our Bereavement Benefits Factsheet.

As a USS member, you automatically qualify for life cover equal to three times your salary so long as you remain an active member of the scheme. It’s a good idea to complete an Expression of Wish form to let us know where you would like that lump sum to be paid in the event of your death.

To find out more about what will happen in the case of bereavement and to obtain an
Expression of Wish form, take a look at our Life Events section.

Make plans for the future

No matter what your plans are for the future, making sure you’re in the best possible position to afford your retirement aspirations will help to ensure you can have the retirement you want. With a number of options available to you as a USS member throughout your journey to retirement, the earlier you start planning your retirement, the better

Find out more about all the options available to you by taking a look at our further reading below:

Important note: This publication is for general guidance only. It is not a legal document and does not explain all situations or eventualities. USS is governed by a trust deed and rules and 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. Any references to the trustee or USSL in this document means Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited, the trustee company of Universities Superannuation Scheme and any references to the scheme or USS means Universities Superannuation Scheme.

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