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USS & TPS: key features

This section provides information on the key features of USS and TPS, the two main pension schemes for higher education staff in the UK.

Please note - this information does not yet reflect any recent changes to the USS and TPS schemes which are still ongoing.

  • Absence from service
    Members of these schemes can normally take unpaid breaks from work and protect their pension rights.
  • Additional pension benefits
    The Teachers' Pension Scheme allows members to pay in extra money to top up their pension.
  • Additional voluntary contributions (AVCs)
    By making AVCs members can increase their pension benefits, often substantially.
  • Allocation of pension
    Allocation is an arrangement, only available in USS, whereby part of a member's pension is given up in order to enhance the pension of a spouse or dependant following the member's death.
  • Death
    USS and TPS information on death in service, and death after retirement.
  • Divorce & eligible children
    USS and TPS information on divorce and eligible children.
  • Ill-health & commutation
    Members suffering from persistent ill-health are sometimes asked to reduce their work commitment (eg, moving from full-time to a part-time contract).
  • Moving jobs & transfer of pension
    Pension rights from any previous employment can be transferred into or out of either scheme.
  • Nomination of beneficiaries
    Members of USS are advised to inform USS Ltd of the names of relatives, civil partners or others who they would wish to receive any lump sum on their death (otherwise known as making an 'expression of wish'); this may be done through the employer.
  • Part-time staff & pensions
    Under auto-enrollment you now have to be placed into a pension scheme.
  • Pension increases
    Pensions are normally increased annually in April in line with the pensions increase orders announced by the government.
  • Pensionable salary
    Pensionable earnings can include performance-related pay, profit-related pay, lump-sum payments made as part of the remuneration package, and certain payments in kind, such as warden accommodation in some institutions.
  • Re-employment of pensioners
    TPS and USS information on the re-employment of pensioners.
  • Retirement benefits
    A rundown of the retirement benefits of USS and TPS.
  • Retiring abroad
    Payment of the TPS or USS pensions is not dependent on country of residence. In TP your pension can be paid direct into an overseas bank account in the majority of countries. In USS your pension needs to be paid into a UK bank.
  • Strike action and pensionable salary
    Strike action affects the length of service for all employees and the final salary for those in their last year of service.
  • Both USS and TPS allow members to obtain an estimate of their pension benefits online.
    Both USS and TPS allow members to obtain an estimate of their pension benefits online.
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