USS Fact sheet

USS is the University's scheme for those of its staff who are on academic and academic-related scales of pay. USS is a national scheme open to all such employees of UK universities.

You are eligible to join USS if:
  • You are an employee of the University;
  • You are on an academic or academic-related scale of pay;
  • Your employer says your job is pensionable.
Members of USS are sent an Explanatory Booklet which provides a more detailed explanation of the scheme, the key features of which are detailed below.


Normal Contributions: Your contribution is 8% of your pensionable salary (usually basic salary). Your employer pays a variable amount (presently 18% of the total of members' pensionable salaries) to USS in order to fund the balance of the cost of the benefits.

Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs): You may increase your retirement benefits by paying AVCs. The options available are:

  • building up a capital sum in a "money purchase" facility provided by Prudential, or
  • building up a capital sum in a "Free Standing AVC" facility with the provider of your choice, or
  • from October 2016, builing up a capital sum in the USS Investment Builder.

Important: Your contributions to USS qualify for tax relief at your highest marginal rate. The relief is given at source through the payroll. Contributions paid to a Free Standing AVC arrangement are not usually deducted through Payroll, so do not attract tax relief at source. Your Free Standing AVC provider can tell you more about how you obtain tax relief on these contributions.


The principal benefits are:

  • A Pension, calculated at the end of each scheme year, payable at retirement at the rate of 1/75 x pensionable salary. From October 2016, the salary used will be no more than the salary threshold.
  • A tax free Cash Lump Sum, of three times that pension.
  • Saving in the USS Investment Builder (from October 2016).

Other benefits are:

  • Early Retirement on the grounds of ill health (after 2 years of contributory service). Members who satisfy the Trustee Company (USS Limited) that they are permanently incapable of continuing in their present or comparable employment owing to ill health, become entitled to an immediate pension and cash lump sum calculated on their current salary and prospective pensionable service to normal retirement date.

  • A Death-in-Service Cash Lump Sum, equal to three years' salary, payable to a person or persons chosen at the discretion of the Trustee Company. The Trustee Company will take into consideration persons previously nominated by the member. Nomination Forms are available from the Pensions Office or from your Administrator's office. Important: If your circumstances change, please remember to update your nomination by completing a new form.

  • A Dependant's Pension, payable upon death to a surviving spouse or other dependant at the rate of either:

    • on death in service, half the pension that would have been payable had the member retired on the grounds of ill health on the day before death,

    • on death of a preserved pensioner before retirement, half the preserved pension, or

    • on death in retirement, half of the pension in payment.

  • Up to two Child Allowances, payable on behalf of any of the member's children under the age of seventeen or remaining in full-time education at the date of death. The amount payable to each child is 75% of the dependant's pension.


  • All pensions and child allowances, up until 30 September 2011, are increased annually in line with the increase in the Retail Prices Index (RPI). For benefits built up after 30 September 2011, USS will match increases in official pensions for the first 5%. If official pensions increase by more than 5%, then USS will pay half of the difference up to a maximum increase of 10%. Official pensions are those for public sector schemes like NHS, Teachers and Civil Service.

  • All benefits are subject to limits imposed by HMRC.

  • Nothing stated in this summary can override the Rules of the Scheme.

Further sources of information

  • Explanatory Booklet: As mentioned earlier, all members of USS are sent an Explanatory Booklet, which provides a more detailed explanation of the scheme.

  • Scheme Address: The registered office of the Trustee Company, to which enquiries about the scheme or about an individual's entitlements should be sent, is: Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited, Royal Liver Building, Liverpool L3 1PY.

  • Visit the USS website