When you become a member of USS you automatically join the USS Retirement Income Builder.
In this type of defined benefit pension scheme your benefits are based on each year’s salary throughout the period of membership.
As a member you will accrue a pension of 1/75 of your salary and a cash lump sum of 3/75 of your salary for each year of service. At the end of each year, your benefits for that year are calculated and added to previous years. This is then revalued every year in line with standard pension increases. However, there is a salary cap on this arrangement of £59,586.00 per annum (2020/21) – for those affected by this there is further information in the USS Investment Builder section below.
You will also gain access to the USS Investment Builder, the new defined contribution section of the scheme (further details below).
On 1st April 2016 all USS members moved to the USS Retirement Income Builder. The current contributions rates are 9.6% for the employee and 21.1% for the employer – there are also potentially further increases that may come into effect. For further details please see the USS website.
Previously there were two sections of USS, the Final Salary section and the Career Revalued Benefits section. Broadly speaking, if you joined USS prior to 1st October 2011 you will be in the Final Salary section. Those who joined after that date will be in the Career Revalued Benefits section (some members may have been able to join the Final Salary section if they had previous membership of USS).
For those who were in the Final Salary section, you should have received a Final Salary Closure Statement confirming the amount of pension you had accrued up to 31st March 2016.
Details of each of these section are on the USS website:
The USS Presentation Slides on the changes is also available below:
Joining the Scheme
All new staff employed on a regular contract will be contractually enrolled into the USS Retirement Income Builder. As a general rule, if your contract is for 2 years’ or more then you will automatically pay contributions via our salary sacrifice Pensions Extra (for more details see the Pensions Homepage - Pensions). However, Pensions Extra is available to all staff should they wish (subject to terms detailed in the Pensions Extra booklet).
As a new member of the scheme you will need to decide whether you wish to join USS and if so whether you would like to pay contributions via salary sacrifice (Pensions Extra).
The link below provides more details:
You should also complete an Expression of Wish form and Registration of Potential Dependant form (if relevant).
Expression of Wish – this form nominates to whom you wish the death in service lump sum of 3 times your annual salary to be paid. You can nominate more than one person if you wish.
Registration of Potential Dependant – this form relates to the spouses’/civil partner’s/dependant’s pension. It is only relevant if you are not married nor part of a registered civil partnership. Spouses/civil partners are automatically eligible for a pension so a form is not required.
To update your beneficiaries (amongst other things), please register with My USS using the Member Number provided to you on any USS correspondence. This is also available on request from the pensions team:
You may also have other pension schemes that you would like to transfer in to USS. For further details on this please refer to the USS website:
USS Investment Builder
Unless you are earning over the salary cap (£59,586.00 per annum (2020/21)), then this section of USS is optional.
If you wish to pay additional voluntary contributions on top of the standard contributions then the USS investment Builder is available. To sign up to this, you need to visit the ‘My USS’ website and have your Member Number ready. This should have been issued to you by USS as either a letter or for newer staff as a Membership Certificate – if you can’t find your Member Number you can contact USS on their Investment Builder helpline (0333 300 1043) or contact the UEA pensions department (ext. 2676).
UEA payroll departments run a report each month which details any updates members make to ‘My USS’ – this report is usually run around 16th of the month but can vary – any changes on the report will be applied for that month so please bear this in mind when updating ‘My USS’.
For those over the salary cap, any contributions in excess of the cap are automatically paid into the USS Investment Builder. For any excess salary, 8% of employee contributions and 12% of employer contributions are paid into the fund. Those affected should register with ‘My USS’ as they have choices regarding how the fund is invested. Unless specified, contributions are paid to the default fund.
Further details are on the USS website:
Other Additional Voluntary Contributions
Previously, there were other options available regarding paying into the scheme such as the USS Added Years AVC, USS Career Revalued Benefit and the USS Money Purchase AVC (with Prudential). These are no longer available but some members may have existing contracts and they were allowed to continue paying onto these schemes.
More details are below:
Retirement and Flexible Retirement
If you are considering retirement or flexible retirement then you can get an estimate of your prospective retirement benefits under the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) by contacting Duncan Sides, or another member of the pensions team.
USS will also provide quotations if the retirement date is within 12 months of the request.
To formally notify USS of your retirement there is a form to complete. This form should be requested from the UEA pension department and ideally completed 3 months prior to retirement. For flexible retirement the notice period is only 2 months.
USS will then write to you with a quotation of benefits and your retirement options. Once you have confirmed to them the option you wish to take, they will set up the payments. Any lump sum die is paid as soon as possible after retirement and the pension is paid on 21st of the month.
Flexible Retirement – this allows members to take up to 80% of their pension subject to reducing their contract hours by at least 20%. The reduction in hours is something that needs to be agreed with your line manager (or equivalent) prior to proceeding and USS strictly require two months’ notice.
More details are on the USS website:
There is a wealth of information on the USS website including benefit modellers, member scenarios, videos and podcasts - USS - Resources.
Annual and Lifetime Allowance
Some members may be affected by either the Annual or Lifetime Allowance – the limits for both of these have reduced considerably so more and more members are being affected. Annual allowance restricts tax relief available each tax year whilst Lifetime Allowance is based on the value an individual’s overall pension fund is worth.
USS do have information regarding these allowances and the options members affected have but do stress that it is an individual tax matter that members will need to take responsibility for. USS can provide information on that scheme but will not be aware of an individual’s entire financial position.
Mercer did a presentation on the most recent changes and the slides from that presentation are below: