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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


See if your question can be answered by looking at the schemes’ FAQs below:

Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) Superannuation Arrangements of the University of London (SAUL) National Health Service Pension Scheme (NHSPS)

 

More frequently asked questions

1 How do I join a pension scheme?
2 How do I join a pension scheme if I am not automatically enrolled?
3

My contract of employment is for less than 2 years.  Is there anything I should consider in relation to my pension scheme membership?

4 What do I pay?
5 I am transferring to UCL from another University, what do I need to do to ensure my pension scheme membership is transferred with me to UCL?
6 I have viewed my payslip (on-line or printed) and I see that I have pension scheme deductions, but don’t want to be a member, what do I do to stop paying contributions?
7 How do I opt out of a pension scheme?
8 I have previously elected not to be in a scheme but wish to rejoin a pension scheme, what do I do?
9 I have some pension benefits in my previous employer’s pension scheme, what are my options?
10 I am interesting in paying Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) into the scheme to increase my retirement benefits.  Where do I find out more and how much extra can I pay?
11 How is my pension calculated if I work part-time?
12 I have previously completed Death in Service lump sum nomination form but wish to update the details.  What do I need to do?
13 I am going on Maternity Leave, what happens to my pension?
14 I am going on period of leave of absence, how does this affect my pension?
15 What happens when I leave UCL?
16 I am leaving UCL to work at another institution in the UK which offers the same pension scheme, what should I do?
17 I am leaving UCL and going overseas.  Can I transfer my pension to an overseas scheme?
18 What are my options when I achieve 40 years pensionable service in the scheme (USS, SAUL)?
19 I need to discuss my pension matters with an Independent Financial Advisor.  How do I find one?
20 I am considering retiring from UCL.  Where can I find out more?
21 Where can I find out more about the USS Flexible Retirement arrangement?

 

1. How do I join a pension scheme?
You will have been provided with information about pension scheme membership with your Contract of Employment.  The terms of your membership and which scheme are determined by conditions set out in your contract of employment, either automatically or on an opt-in basis are set out in that contract.  Participation in USS and SAUL operates under PensionsExchange. 

2. How do I join a pension scheme if I am not automatically enrolled?
If your contract of employment indicates that enrolment into a pension scheme is not automatic, but you wish to join a pension scheme, you will need to complete a form to join.  For part-time Variable Time employees, and the nature of your employment, benefits may be calculated on a slightly different basis.

3. My contract of employment is for less than 2 years.  Is there anything I should consider in relation to my pension scheme membership?

In accordance with UK pension scheme rules, you can apply for a refund of your contributions when you leave the scheme, ie USS and SAUL if you have less than two years membership, but only if you had NOT participated in PensionsExchange.  The refund will be subject to a tax charge and a statutory deduction relating to your National Insurance contributions.

If you wish to have the refund of contribution option available to you upon leaving USS or SAUL within 2 years of joining, it is not advisable for you to participate in PensionsExchange.

You may wish to make the PensionsExchange opting out election as part of your UCL new staff registration or contacting UCL Pension Services

If you have already completed your UCL new staff registration, but wish to opt out of PensionsExchange on commencement of your UCL employment, you will need to complete a PensionsExchange Opt out Form.

By opting out of PensionsExchange but retaining your USS or SAUL membership, you continue to enjoy the full range of USS or SAUL benefits, and have a refund of contributions option available upon leaving.  Also, you still benefit from full tax relief at the highest marginal rate on your pension scheme contribution and some National Insurance Contribution savings.

If your contract of employment (and pension scheme membership) is extended beyond 2 years, the refund of contributions option is no longer available.  You should consider opting in to PensionsExchange so that you can fully benefit from the National Insurance Contribution savings. You are able to opt in at the anniversary of the arrangement, 1 May of each year by completing a Opt In Form.

Once you have reached two years membership a refund of your contributions is not available but you will have built up a benefit entitlement in the pension scheme.

All completed forms should be sent to UCL Pension Services.

4. What do I pay?
The contribution rates for the pension schemes provided by UCL are:

 

USS

SAUL

NHS

Employee

Revalued Benefits section = 6.5%
Final Salary section = 7.5%

6.00%

6.50% - 8.50% *

Employer

16.00%

14.00%

14.00%

*NHS Employee contributions are based on a tier, dependant on full-time equivalent pensionable salary levels.

Employee contributions attract tax relief, at source at the highest rate for which you are liable, and you also pay less National Insurance.  Participation in USS and SAUL operates under PensionsExchange.

5. I am transferring to UCL from another University, what do I need to do to ensure my pension scheme membership is transferred with me to UCL?
You will need to indicate this on the Pension Scheme Membership section of your UCL On-line Staff Registration (or non-online paper equivalent form), even if you are continuing in the same scheme.  If you were paying AVCs at your previous employer, it is important to notify this, so that the appropriate deductions can continue to be made from your UCL salary.

6. I have viewed my payslip (on-line or printed) and I see that I have pension scheme deductions, but don’t want to be a member, what do I do to stop paying contributions?
You need to complete a form (election not to join/opt-out) as required by the pension scheme.  You can download a Form or inform Pension Services.  Before you make your final decision, it is important to consider what you are missing out by not being in the scheme; you are effectively turning down the equivalent of at least 13% of your salary, and losing out on the wide range of benefits and financial security on retirement available.  You also need to consider any re-joining membership conditions and eligibility.  Further information is available on the USS and SAUL websites.

7. How do I opt out of a pension scheme?
See previous question for what you need to do and what you should consider before making your final decision.

8. I have previously elected not to be in a scheme but wish to rejoin a pension scheme, what do I do?
You will need to make your application on this Form and return the completed form to UCL Pension Services.

9. I have some pension benefits in my previous employer’s pension scheme, what are my options?
You can request a Transfer-In quotation by completing a Form and sending it to UCL Pension Services.  A transfer value quotation will be obtained for you to consider.  You are not obliged to proceed with it.  When making you decision to transfer-in or not, you may wish to seek advice on a transfer.  Although we can provide you with plenty of information, you will need to decide yourself whether or not to transfer.  You may wish to seek financial advice.  Further information about how to seek financial advice can be found here.

You should also note, that if your previous employers scheme was a member of the Public Sector Transfer Club, there are time-limits for making your application.  Further information about Transfers-In and the Public Sector Transfer Club can be found on the USS, SAUL and NHS websites.

10. I am interesting in paying Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) into the scheme to increase my retirement benefits.  Where do I find out more and how much extra can I pay?
Further information about the various AVC options can be found on the USS, SAUL & NHS websites.  You receive tax relief on AVCs in the same way as your normal contributions.  Once you have decided that you wish to commence paying (or changing the rate of any existing AVCs), you need to either send the completed signed form to UCL Pension Services or contact them by email with your request.

11. How is my pension calculated if I work part-time?
Your pension is calculated in the usual way, using your full time equivalent salary, but the service accrued is proportionate to your part time service fraction and your full time equivalent salary will be used in that period of membership where you work part time.  For example, you are working 50% of full time hours with a part-time salary of £20,000 p.a.  You are in the scheme for 20 years.  For each year you will accrue ½ a year.  Therefore your pension calculation will be based on 10 years service and your full-time equivalent salary of £40,000 p.a.

Similarly, if you have periods of full-time and part-time membership, the total amount of each period, as calculated above, will be added together to give you your total pensionable service amount.

12. I have previously completed Death in Service lump sum nomination form but wish to update the details.  What do I need to do?
It is important that the details are kept up to date, and that you periodically complete a form even if the details do not change.  Complete a new Form, remember to sign (and get it witnessed if required), date it and send it to UCL Pension Services.

13. I am going on Maternity Leave, what happens to my pension?
Further information about Maternity Leave can be found on the USS, SAUL & NHS websites, the UCL website, or you can contact Pension Services with your enquiry.

14. I am going on period of leave of absence, how does this affect my pension?
Further information about leave of absence (any other periods of absence, including long term sickness) can be found on the the USS, SAUL & NHS websites, the UCL website, or you can contact Pension Services with your enquiry.

15. What happens when I leave UCL?
Once you have been processed on the UCL payroll for the final time, your salary and contribution details will be provided to the pension scheme.  They will then contact you at your home address, (using the one that we have provided, as held on the HR system), with the leaver options available.  It is important that before you leave UCL, you update Myview with the correct details.  Further information about the options and choices available to you can be found on the USS, SAUL & NHS websites.

16. I am leaving UCL to work at another institution in the UK which offers the same pension scheme, what should I do?
As outlined above, the pension scheme will be informed that you have left UCL once you have been processed on the payroll for the final time.  It will be helpful if this can be indicated to UCL Pension Services (by email) before you leave UCL, and also if you inform the Pensions Contact at your new employer, so that your pension scheme membership can be maintained correctly, particularly if you are paying Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs).

17. I am leaving UCL and going overseas.  Can I transfer my pension to an overseas scheme?
The leaving service options available are explained on the pension schemes websites.  A transfer value can be paid but only if it is to a qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme (QROPS).  Further information about moving overseas can be found here.

18. What are my options when I achieve 40 years pensionable service in the scheme (USS, SAUL)?
UCL Pension Services will receive confirmation of your 40 year pensionable service achievement, and will then write to you (together with a form, as appropriate, which USS/SAUL require you to complete), setting out your choices.  The choice you make will ultimately affect the amount of benefits you will receive.  Your choices are:

19. I need to discuss my pension matters with an Independent Financial Advisor.  How do I find one?
UCL Pension Services can provide information about the schemes and options available to members but cannot provide financial advice.  Some aspects of pensions can be complex, resulting in some members being presented with difficult decisions to make.  It is recommended that members who require financial advice should contact an Independent Financial Adviser.  Find an Advisor here.

20. I am considering retiring from UCL.  Where can I find out more?
Further information about all retirement options and benefits and how they are calculated is available on USS, SAUL and NHS websites.  Information about the Default Retirement Age and working beyond age 65 is available here

21. Where can I find out more about the USS Flexible Retirement arrangement?
Members of USS who are considering Flexible Retirement can find further information here. The main features of the arrangement are: