USS scheme: current overview

The information below summarises the current benefit arrangements for members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme – commonly known as USS. These are expected to change from April 2024. 

Staff on Grades E and above are eligible to join the Universities Superannuation Scheme – commonly known as USS.

The Contract of Employment you will be offered before you join the University of Exeter will contain brief details regarding your pension scheme. Importantly, your contract will inform that you will automatically be put into the pension scheme unless you opt not to join. (See information on Opting Out below.)

New to USS

If you are about to join, or have just joined, there are a some things you should think about straight away:

  • Complete the death benefit nomination forms
  • Expression of Wish – Everyone should complete this to let USS know where any lump sum should be paid in the event of your death.
  • Registration of Potential dependant – Only complete this form if you are not married nor part of a civil partnership. This form is used to notify USS of a financial dependant who might qualify to receive the equivalent of the spouse’s pension on your death.
  • Been in USS before – if you have previous membership of USS please let us know, especially if you have just joined us from another institution. This way we can make sure that your USS records are maintained and ensure that the correct rate of employee contribution are taken from your pay. It is especially important if you were paying Additional Voluntary Contributions at your previous post as these will need to be carried on being deducted from your pay at this institution.

Information on the benefits provided by USS including information for members, prospective members as well as deferred and retired members and any forms that are required can be found on the USS website

Pension input period for USS

USS have issued an announcement to scheme members regarding the pension input period for the purpose of calculating the Annual Allowance for tax purposes - see the USS website

Opting out of the scheme at the start of your employment or during your employment

Whilst the scheme gives automatic membership, you do not have to take this up and can choose to opt out of the scheme at any time. The options upon leaving the scheme this way are the same as those if you left the employment of the University.

You can of course choose to opt back in, subject to conditions.

If you do not wish to be a member of the pension scheme, you should read the "Thinking of Leaving" section of the USS website, download the "Notice to opt out or withdraw from USS" form and send the completed form to at the earliest opportunity. The form will need to be completed and returned to the Pay and Benefits Office before the cut off day for payroll.

Changes to USS Normal Retirement Age

On 6 October 2020 the state pension age (SPA) increased from 65 to 66 and since the USS scheme is aligned with the standard pension age, the USS Normal Retirement Age also increased to age 66 at the same time.  The change only affect benefits that you build up from October 2020.  All benefits in the scheme before that date are not be affected. If you retire after 6 October 2020 and you are below 66, the Retirement Income Builder benefits you build up from October 2020 may be reduced to reflect early payment. The Normal Retirement Age in USS will remain aligned with State Pension age for any future increases made by the government. For more details see the USS website

Further information