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USS & TPS at-a-glance

3 November 2005

This page provides information on the current key features of USS and TPS, the two main pension schemes for post 16 education staff in the UK.

Members with service in either scheme prior to 2022 should consult the scheme administrators' websites.

TPS/USS key features


Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS)
TPS website
NITPS website
SPPA website

Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)
USS website

Scheme type

Defined benefit - Career Average*


Hybrid (Defined Benefit - Career Average* up to salary threshold of £73,293pa and defined contribution thereafter).

Membership: institutions

Post-1992 institutions, further education colleges and schools.

Pre-1992 universities, associated companies, a number of post-1992 institutions for limited categories.

Eligible membership

All teaching staff.

Available to all staff on designation by the employer - usually grade 6 and above.


Set according to salary level across 6 bands ranging from c7.4% to 11.7%. (7.2% to 11.9% in Scotland)


Employer contributions

23.68% in England and Wales, 23% in Scotland and 25.1% in Northern Ireland


Pension accrual

1/57th of pensionable pay in each year of membership.

1/75th of pensionable pay each year of membership up to the current threshold of £73,293pa.
Defined contribution pension element paid according to investment value.

Inflation proofing

Each year is 'revalued' by CPI + 1.6%.

Each year is 'revalued' by CPI up to 5%. If CPI is greater than 5%, half of the excess is added, up to a total of 10%.

Lump sum?

No automatic lump sum but you can take up to 25% of your pension pot as a lump sum. For every one pound of your annual pension you give up you will receive £12 as a lump sum.

Yes, 3 times annual pension from the DB section of the scheme

Normal retirement age

Set equal to your state retirement age.

Set equal to your state retirement age.

Minimum pension age**

55 (rising to 57 from 2028).

55 (rising to 57 from 2028)

Ill-health cover


Two tiers of ill-health, more information can be found at: TPS ill-health information
Serious Ill Health Lump Sum for those with a terminal diagnosis


Two tiers of ill-health, partial and total incapacity, more information can be found at: USS ill-health information
Serious Ill Health Lump Sum for those with a terminal diagnosis

Life assurance including survivor benefit?

TPS death in service information


USS death in service information

Early retirement

Yes - either on a phased basis whilst you continue working on reduced hours, or reduced to take account of early payment.
Retirement Planning Guide TPS

Minimum pension age applies.

Yes - either on a flexible basis if you reduce your working hours and salary or reduced to take account of early payment.
Thinking about your Future USS

Minimum pension age applies.

Short service refunds

Up to two years:
TPS refund information

Up to two years:
USS refund information

Increasing pension benefits

Flexibilities include faster accrual and buyout of actuarial reduction (latter only available within 6 months of joining the scheme) buying additional pension and AVCs:
TPS increasing your pension information

You can pay extra into USS Investment Builder to increase your future pension:
USS increasing your pension information

Salary sacrifice


USS allows salary sacrifice on pension contributions, this requires a contractual change and needs to be negotiated by UCU and agreed by the local branch members.

* CARE -Career Average Revalued Earnings is a type of DB pension where an individual's pension is calculated by reference to a defined formula each year, an annual pension is calculated each year; this is adjusted to take into account the cost of living. The next year the same happens again and so on year after year.

** Minimum pension age - if you take your pension before NPA it will be reduced to take account of early payment

Last updated: 8 April 2024