Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension

USS is the pension scheme for members of staff appointed on grades 7-11. You will be automatically entered into the pension scheme under the PensionsPlus (.pdf) arrangement from your joining date.

About the scheme

USS is the pension scheme provided by more than 370 UK universities and higher education and research institutions. It was established collectively by universities in 1975 and is one of the largest pension schemes in the country.

USS is a large centralised hybrid (some defined benefit and defined contributions elements) pension scheme which provides benefits for your retirement and protection in the event of your death or incapacity. It has two sections.

  1. USS Retirement Income Builder (April 2016 onwards)
  2. USS Retirement Investment Builder (October 2016 onwards)

USS Retirement Investment Builder

The Investment Builder has been available to all USS members from 1 October 2016. This means you'll need to make some choices around your choice of investment for the defined contribution (DC) element of the scheme and whether you want to take advantage of the additional 1% DC matched contribution. The USS website contains everything you'll need to understand your choices.

My USS - view your pension

Create an account or log in to view your pension record, manage your USS membership and review the investment choices you made when the DC element was introduced in October 2016.

Member communication

USS release monthly communications with the latest information to members, along with factsheets and forms.

USS pension valuation

Every three years, USS carries out a valuation – a detailed analysis of the factors that influence the scheme's funding position. Its purpose is to establish, at a point in time whether the trustee can reasonably expect to have enough money to pay the benefits that all members have already built up in the scheme, and how much is needed to continue to provide the current level of benefits in future for members still actively paying in.

Grades 1-6 USS to SAUL option

You now have the choice to cease your USS membership and join the SAUL pension scheme, if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • you are an active member of the USS pension scheme or opted out of paying into a pension
  • employed on a grade 1 – 6 contract
  • joined the University between 1 February 2004 and 1 June 2014
  • you have not reached your 65th birthday

Differences between USS and SAUL

To help you decide which pension scheme is best for you, below is a comparison of the two schemes. Full details are available on the scheme websites:

Feature SAUL  USS 
Pension accrual rate  1/75th of your annual salary  1/75th of your annual salary 
Contribution rate 6% of your salary  6.1% of your salary
Death in service (active scheme member)  A lump sum of four times your annual salary, a spouses pension and children's allowance  A lump sum equal to three times your annual salary, a spouses pension and children's allowance 
Transfer in from other pensions schemes  No  Yes - subject to the transfers meeting the required criteria 
Pension increase options  Yes  Yes 
Is overtime pensionable? Yes  No 

The calculator (.xlsx) will show you the difference to your net pay by paying into SAUL instead of USS. You can find out your monthly salary by looking at your payslip on HR Organiser.

Your accrued USS pension

If you decide to move from the USS pension scheme then your pension which has already been earned with USS will be deferred and become payable at the schemes Normal Pension Age (NPA) which is currently 65. Your deferred pension will be increased annually in line with official pension schemes such as the NHS and Civil Service up to a maximum of 5% per year.

Joining the SAUL pension scheme

To join the SAUL pension scheme, you must firstly withdraw from the USS pension scheme if you are currently actively contributing towards your pension.

Once you have withdrawn, (if applicable) you need to email reward@essex.ac.uk advising that you wish to join the SAUL pension scheme. The team will take this forward for you, and in the following weeks, you will receive a welcome letter from SAUL.

To move from USS to the SAUL pension scheme you need to print and complete the USS withdrawal form (.pdf). Once completed, you can either return it to the HR Reception (room 4SA.6.8) or scan and send it to reward@essex.ac.uk.

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Rewards Team