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Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)



General USS Information

Membership of USS has been available to eligible employees at the University of Reading since 1975 and currently there are in excess of 2,200 members here at Reading. Membership is offered by the University of Reading to employees in Framework Grades 6 and above or equivalent. The Scheme is operated under a Trust and the assets are kept entirely separate from those of the University.

USS is a hybrid scheme with benefits built up on both a defined benefit and a defined contribution basis (if pay exceeds a certain level). You will earn pension of 1/85th of your pay plus tax free cash of 3 x pension up to a salary threshold of £41,004. For pay in excess of £41,004, contributions of 20% of this tier of pay (13.9% from the employer, 6.1% from you) will go into a defined contribution section known as the Investment Builder. You can find full details of how your USS benefits are built up on the USS website.

USS runs some helpful and interesting member webinars. Further details can be found here and below.

Contribution rates to USS are 6.1% of salary for employees and 14.5% for the University with effect from 1 January 2024. This includes any earnings over the salary threshold.

A salary exchange scheme was introduced by the University in 2012 as this is a more efficient way of paying into the Scheme. Further information can be found on the Pensions+ page.

Membership of USS provides the following benefits:

  • a pension for life
  • the option to take a tax free cash sum on retirement
  • a tax free lump sum if you die whilst an active member
  • a pension for your spouse or civil partner or dependant if you die
  • pensions for eligible children if you die
  • a facility to increase your retirement benefits by paying additional contributions (AVCs)
  • early payment of retirement benefits if you have to retire due to incapacity
  • tax relief on the contributions you pay into the scheme

If you are eligible for membership of USS you will be enrolled automatically from your first day of employment and if this is the case, it will be specified in your contract of employment. For some posts employees are only automatically entered into Scheme membership if they meet the Government's auto-enrolment criteria. Please see your offer and contract of employment for full information. Membership is available to anyone who has not been entered automatically - or who has previously opted out of the Scheme - see "What to do if you want to join a pension scheme" below.

Should you decide that you do not want to be a member of USS you can opt out but this cannot be done in advance of your first day of employment or, if auto-enrolled under the Government's criteria, before you have received your enrolment notice. Information on how to opt out of Scheme membership can be found on the USS website.

Full details of USS can be found on the scheme's website long with lots of helpful factsheets, information and benefit modellers. Forms for nominating beneficiaries in the event of your death or for transferring other benefits into USS can also be found here.

What to do if you want to join a pension scheme:

If you want to join a pension scheme now, contact Heike Burnell, Pensions Manager, in writing by sending a letter, which has to be signed by you. Or if sending it electronically, it has to contain the phrase "I confirm I personally submitted this notice to join a workplace pension scheme". Alternatively, an Opt In / Joining Notice can be found in the forms section below. The internal postal address is: Pensions Office, Whiteknights House or if sending through the external mail: Pensions Office, The University of Reading, PO Box 217, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AH. The email address is: You will then be sent further information and confirmation you are being enrolled in the Scheme.

Paying Additional Contributions

Members can opt to pay additional contributions to USS. These will go into your Investment Builder pot. To sign up for additional payments (or change or stop existing additional contributions) log on to My USS.

Please note that any changes you request via My USS will be implemented in your pay the month after you have submitted the request. So if, for example, you submit the change request in May, it will take effect in your June pay.

USS Tax Changes

Over the last few years there have been some reductions in the amount of tax free benefits which can be built up.

Although it is mainly higher earners who are affected by these, a change brought in from April 2016 could affect anyone who has taxable income in excess of £110,000 pa (this includes all taxable income such as rent from properties, investment income and the such like).

For information of these limits and the recent changes along with some helpful additional resources, please visit USS tax changes .

Current scheme information


USS Webinars

 Title  Date Register
 Planning for retirement 7 March 2024 9.30am Register
 Leaving USS 7 March 2024 12pm Register
 About USS 7 March 2024 2.30pm Register
Understanding DC (the Investment Builder) 20 March 2024 9.30am Register
New to USS 20 March 2024 12pm Register
 Planning for Retirement 20 March 2024 2.30pm Register





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  • Room 110
    First Floor
    Whiteknights House
  • Office hours:
    Mon-Thurs 9am-5pm,
    Fri - 9am-4.30pm.

Pensions General Enquiries