This page contains a summary of the terminology associated with OSPS pensions.

Active member

This is an employee who is making contributions to OSPS, either directly or through Salary Exchange.

Adult Dependant

This is your husband, wife or civil partner at the date of your death. At the discretion of the Trustees, it may include someone (irrespective of gender) who:

  • you were living with when you died in a relationship closely resembling marriage; and
  • was financially dependent or inter-dependent with you.

It can also mean anyone (but not a child) who, in the opinion of the Trustees, was wholly or partly financially dependent on you, or to whose maintenance or education you were contributing, when you died.

Annual allowance

This is the total value that can be added to your benefits in a tax year before you have to pay tax on it. It has been set at a high level, which is unlikely to affect most OSPS members.

It can include all the following:

  • the increase in value of your OSPS pension over the year;
  • any additional voluntary contributions (AVCs) you pay;
  • any contributions you pay to other pension arrangements, such as a personal pension.

These amounts are measured over the ‘pension input period’ for each pension arrangement you are a member of. Pension schemes may have different pension input periods and they are not necessarily the same as the tax year. The pension input period for OSPS is April to March each year.

For more information see the Government guidance on Annual Allowance.


A child in relation to a deceased member includes a step-child, a child which has been legally adopted, a child conceived but not yet born and any other person deemed by the trustee to have been treated as a child of their family by the deceased member.


Certain schemes in the Public Sector belong to the Public Sector Transfer Club, which is called the Club for short. They have an agreement to transfer final salary benefits between them using the same actuarial factors and ignoring changes in salary level. This means that these types of transfer are often more generous than non-Club transfers. More information on the Club can be found here

Final pensionable salary

This is the greater of:

  • the pensionable salary you receive in the twelve months immediately before you retire, die, or leave OSPS; or
  • your pensionable salary for any twelve consecutive months during the five years immediately before you retire, die or leave OSPS.

Five-year guarantee

This is a cash sum which is payable if you die within five years of retiring. It is the balance of five years’ pension payments.

Irregular Employee

This is an employee who works irregular hours that vary from time to time depending upon the needs of their employer. Irregular employees are not admitted automatically to the scheme and can only join at the invitation of their employer. The Pensions Office will not confirm membership until the employer certifies that the individual is an employee and has been invited to join the scheme.

Lifetime allowance

This is the value of the total benefits you can build up under tax-privileged arrangements during your working life. It covers benefits from all the pension arrangements, personal and occupational, of which you are a member. It does not include any state scheme benefits. If the value of your total benefits is over the lifetime allowance when you retire, you will have to pay extra tax on the excess.

The amount of the lifetime allowance will vary each year. For more information see the Government Lifetime Allowance guidance website.

It is unlikely that any OSPS member will exceed the lifetime allowance unless they have significant benefits elsewhere.

NICO pay

NICO pay is the pay subject to NI contributions between the LEL and the UEL. It is needed to calculate benefits for members who joined before 1 April 2016 and who leave without entitlement to preserved benefit.

OSPS Bonus

As a result of the 1998 valuation a bonus equivalent to 1% of Pensionable Salary for every year and part year of Pensionable Service (calculated at 31 July 1998) was credited to a special investment account in respect of each member in Pensionable Service at that date. This investment account is held with the Prudential. At retirement or death, the value of each member's bonus plus accrued interest can be used by the member to purchase additional benefits within or outside the scheme. It can also be transferred out by the member to another pension scheme separately to their main scheme benefits.

Pensionable salary

This is your basic salary or wages from your employer. If you take part in Salary Exchange, it is your salary before any reductions for Salary Exchange. It includes:

  • any regular overtime required under your contract of employment and treated by your employer as part of normal remuneration; and
  • any regular payments which are pensionable.
  • It does not include other overtime, or any fluctuating payments.

If you work part-time, your pensionable salary is based on your actual part-time salary for working out contributions and lump sums due if you die. For working out other benefits, your pensionable salary is based on the full-time equivalent of your salary.

Pensionable service

This only applies to benefits in the final salary section and is:

  • your period of service in years and days in the final salary section of OSPS; and
  • any further period credited to you by the Trustees, such as service credited by transfers in from other schemes or from AVCs .

Members do not accrue pensionable service after 31 December 2012 unless they transfer in final salary benefits from a Club scheme or are paying final salary AVCs.

If you worked part-time, your pensionable service was in proportion to the hours you work.

Pensioner Member

This is a member or dependant who is receiving an OSPS pension.

Qualifying Service

This is used for working out the preserved benefits you are entitled to if you leave service before you retire, but leave your benefits in OSPS rather than transferring them to another pension arrangement. It includes:

  • the length of time you have been in the scheme in your current period of membership;
  • the length of time you had in a previous period of membership, provided you have preserved benefits for this period or have claimed them as a pension;
  • the length of time you were in a pension scheme that you have transferred in (this is deemed to be at least two years if the transfer has come from a personal pension).

Salary Exchange

In the Salary Exchange arrangement instead of you paying contributions to the pension scheme, your employer pays the equivalent of your contributions into the pension scheme. Your employer then reduces your salary by the amount of your contributions, enabling you to make savings on your National Insurance (NI) contributions.

Scheme Retirement Date (SRD)

We use your SRD to calculate your benefits, in particular whether you are claiming your benefits early or late. You do not have to retire at your SRD. Your employment retirement date is a matter between you and your employer. The University’s policy for support staff can be found here.

Your SRD is defined as follows:

  • if you were born before 1 January 1948 it is 31 December 2012;
  • if not, it is the later of age 65 and your state pension age in whole years;
  • for benefits in the final salary section it is age 65.

You can work out your state pension age on the Government website.

SERPS Offset

Prior to 6 April 1995 OSPS was not contracted out of SERPS. This meant that those members paying full rate National Insurance contributions earned a SERPS pension during their membership of OSPS from 6 April 1978 to 5 April 1995. To take account of the SERPS pension, a target pension of 1/80th x Final Pensionable Salary for each year of Pensionable Service was reduced by a formula amount to reflect the SERPS pension. This was known as the SERPS Offset.

Support staff

These are staff who are not regarded as academic or academic-related by their employer. At the University this is all staff on grades 1 to 5. Some colleges follow this method, but others determine it by the type of work done rather than by salary level or grade.