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  • FIRST POST
    • wallofbeans
    • By wallofbeans 15th Sep 18, 3:35 PM
    • 972Posts
    • 39Thanks
    wallofbeans
    USS Pension
    • #1
    • 15th Sep 18, 3:35 PM
    USS Pension 15th Sep 18 at 3:35 PM
    Hello all,

    I've worked freelance most of my life but as of 3 years ago I started doing a part-time proper job in teaching that offered a pension. I've been paying a chunk of my salary into it since, but still don't really understand how it works.

    Asking the USS people exactly how much I have in a pot gets me nowhere, and I find it disconcerting not to know how much money I have or be able to check up on how it's doing etc, even if I can't access it.

    I was told this was a great pension scheme when I started the job but I'm also aware there has been a lot of noise recently about it not being as great as used to be thought.

    Is it still worth me giving them a chunk of my part-time salary?Maybe I would be better off saving my money another way?

    How can I figure out how much I have in there? They've given me some numbers but it's not very much and isn't the exact amount I'm after. Although, perhaps that's not a thing they'll ever give out.

    Any advice?
Page 2
    • JoeCrystal
    • By JoeCrystal 15th Sep 18, 4:37 PM
    • 1,476 Posts
    • 923 Thanks
    JoeCrystal
    And if I don't retire at 65, can I start getting it even if I am still working?
    Originally posted by wallofbeans
    Read this: https://www.uss.co.uk/members/members-home/retiring

    Yes, you can.

    Basically, if you retire at your normal pension age (NPA) or 65 you can take your USS Retirement Income Builder benefits in full. If you retire before the scheme's NPA (excluding retirement due to ill health), any pension you receive from the USS Retirement Income Builder section will be reduced because taking your benefits early means they will be paid for a longer period of time. It is 4% reduction for each year before NPA. So if you want to take it 10 years before at 55 (minimum age) then you would take 40% reduction in the pension.
    • Dazed and confused
    • By Dazed and confused 15th Sep 18, 4:40 PM
    • 3,198 Posts
    • 1,596 Thanks
    Dazed and confused
    Sort of, the link below covers early, normal late and flexible retirement where you can get (some?) of your pension and continue working.

    https://www.uss.co.uk/members/members-home/retiring

    This is assuming you are still working for a USS employer.

    If you have left and are say on the checkouts at Waitrose then yes you can take your pension at the normal retirement age for USS.
    • kidmugsy
    • By kidmugsy 15th Sep 18, 4:57 PM
    • 12,057 Posts
    • 8,508 Thanks
    kidmugsy
    it will cost the country a lot of money to provide you with this pension when you retire
    Originally posted by Dazed and confused
    No; USS is a private scheme.
    Free the dunston one next time too.
    • bluenose1
    • By bluenose1 15th Sep 18, 7:01 PM
    • 2,014 Posts
    • 3,239 Thanks
    bluenose1
    I think I am looking at it from the wrong angle and do need to change my perspective on pensions.

    My brain is firstly asking why I need to save all that money for when I am just sitting in a chair and watching Countdown, and aren't I better off having it and spending it now.

    I remember a friend's dad in his 70s once telling how he thought it was all the wrong way round, and that he had so much money now when he didn't need it, but had nothing when he was young and could have done with it. And I think of that, when I look at pensions.

    But I can see that that's probably a naive and immature angle on it. This thread is already helping to make me look at this a different way, so thank you!
    Originally posted by wallofbeans
    A lot of us are saving extra to our pensions so that we can retire early, and enjoy it before we hit our 70s.
    I am in USS and paying extra to hopefully retire mid 50s. For every 100 that goes into my pension it has only cost me 68 as you don't pay tax and NI on your USS contributions at most Universities.
    I am hoping to drawdown the extra I save tax free until my other pensions start.
    My one regret is I didn't realise this years ago as spent a lot of my life spending money on things I didn't need.
    Took me ages to get my head round it all.
    Money SPENDING Expert

    • Silvertabby
    • By Silvertabby 15th Sep 18, 7:13 PM
    • 3,432 Posts
    • 5,065 Thanks
    Silvertabby
    “ I think I am looking at it from the wrong angle and do need to change my perspective on pensions.

    My brain is firstly asking why I need to save all that money for when I am just sitting in a chair and watching Countdown, and aren't I better off having it and spending it now.

    I remember a friend's dad in his 70s once telling how he thought it was all the wrong way round, and that he had so much money now when he didn't need it, but had nothing when he was young and could have done with it. And I think of that, when I look at pensions.

    But I can see that that's probably a naive and immature angle on it. This thread is already helping to make me look at this a different way, so thank you!
    Originally posted by wallofbeans

    I bet your friend's dad was living on more than just the State pension !
    • prowla
    • By prowla 15th Sep 18, 7:22 PM
    • 10,102 Posts
    • 8,329 Thanks
    prowla
    (I thought this was going to be a new American aircraft carrier...)
    • belfastgirl23
    • By belfastgirl23 16th Sep 18, 8:49 PM
    • 7,696 Posts
    • 15,481 Thanks
    belfastgirl23
    I think I am looking at it from the wrong angle and do need to change my perspective on pensions.

    My brain is firstly asking why I need to save all that money for when I am just sitting in a chair and watching Countdown, and aren't I better off having it and spending it now.

    I remember a friend's dad in his 70s once telling how he thought it was all the wrong way round, and that he had so much money now when he didn't need it, but had nothing when he was young and could have done with it. And I think of that, when I look at pensions.
    Originally posted by wallofbeans
    The things you like and want now - you will probably like and want in the future. So the question is, do you WANT to spend your retirement watching countdown? And if so, do you want to sit in a comfy chair in a warm house and watch countdown? Would you be ok with sitting on the floor under a blanket watching it on your ancient phone? Cos the state pension is not gonna give you a lot of options.

    Your mates dad sounds like an entitled moaner by the way lol. Very poor advice to be giving you! This is one of the last great pension schemes- grab it with both hands!

    • zagubov
    • By zagubov 16th Sep 18, 9:44 PM
    • 15,604 Posts
    • 132,105 Thanks
    zagubov
    Here's a heads-up. DB pensions like this are the closest thing you'll find in this life to a free lunch.

    It might not be as good as it was once, but it's still an immensely fine thing (a prime demonstration of the best being the enemy of the good).

    Don't hestitate. Grab it with both hands.
    There is no honour to be had in not knowing a thing that can be known - Danny Baker
    • Economic
    • By Economic 17th Sep 18, 9:31 AM
    • 350 Posts
    • 367 Thanks
    Economic
    You just have to note that the employer contribution is currently 18% of you salary to realise the value of the USS pension.
    • wallofbeans
    • By wallofbeans 17th Sep 18, 10:13 AM
    • 972 Posts
    • 39 Thanks
    wallofbeans
    You just have to note that the employer contribution is currently 18% of you salary to realise the value of the USS pension.
    Originally posted by Economic
    I agree. I think it's my lack of understanding of pensions in general that has thrown me here. I'm not seeing that 18% on my statements so I suddenly start to worry where the money is, did I do the right thing, have they calculated it wrong?

    I like to see and regularly check on the money I have, but I can't do that with a pension, which makes me very nervous!

    Thanks all!
    • Southend1
    • By Southend1 17th Sep 18, 2:04 PM
    • 3,247 Posts
    • 3,092 Thanks
    Southend1
    I agree. I think it's my lack of understanding of pensions in general that has thrown me here. I'm not seeing that 18% on my statements so I suddenly start to worry where the money is, did I do the right thing, have they calculated it wrong?

    I like to see and regularly check on the money I have, but I can't do that with a pension, which makes me very nervous!

    Thanks all!
    Originally posted by wallofbeans


    You don't have a "pot" of money in a DB pension like USS. Instead, your contributions buy a guarantee to pay you a certain amount of income per year, plus a lump sum on retirement. You don't need to see a pot of money or check your pension regularly, just keep paying the contributions. That's the beauty of DB - much less stress and risk for individuals than DC.
    • wallofbeans
    • By wallofbeans 17th Sep 18, 3:42 PM
    • 972 Posts
    • 39 Thanks
    wallofbeans
    You don't have a "pot" of money in a DB pension like USS. Instead, your contributions buy a guarantee to pay you a certain amount of income per year, plus a lump sum on retirement. You don't need to see a pot of money or check your pension regularly, just keep paying the contributions. That's the beauty of DB - much less stress and risk for individuals than DC.
    Originally posted by Southend1
    Yes - I'm starting to understand that - phew!

    What do "DB" and "DC" mean? Do other company pensions work in different ways? Like I said, this is my first experience of paying into a pension via a job so it's all new to me.
    • Southend1
    • By Southend1 17th Sep 18, 4:26 PM
    • 3,247 Posts
    • 3,092 Thanks
    Southend1
    Yes - I'm starting to understand that - phew!

    What do "DB" and "DC" mean? Do other company pensions work in different ways? Like I said, this is my first experience of paying into a pension via a job so it's all new to me.
    Originally posted by wallofbeans


    DC = Defined contribution - the contributions are defined but the benefits are not e.g. you pay 5% of salary, employer pays 10% of salary. Income at retirement will depend on market performance. Lots of risk to individual - shortfall, inflation, market risk


    DB - Defined benefit - the benefit is defined e.g. 1/75 pension for each year of membership. The contributions will be whatever is required to meet the defined level of benefit. Much less risk to individual - you know what you will get in retirement regardless of market performance or inflation (mostly). Some risk may be transferred to members as in USS (inflation capping, cost sharing) but still much less risky.


    USS is under threat as the employers and the pensions regulator are trying to push for a switch to DC to shift all the risk on to individual employees, so join your union and resist this with all your strength. However, for now it is a great scheme (if slightly less good than it was a few years ago).
    • JoeCrystal
    • By JoeCrystal 17th Sep 18, 4:49 PM
    • 1,476 Posts
    • 923 Thanks
    JoeCrystal
    DC = Defined contribution - the contributions are defined but the benefits are not e.g. you pay 5% of salary, employer pays 10% of salary. Income at retirement will depend on market performance. Lots of risk to individual - shortfall, inflation, market risk
    Originally posted by Southend1
    I have to say that 10% is actually very generous by employer's standard. Due to auto-enrolment and other factors, according to ONS, the average Employer contribution from 2016 is 3.2%. Which make DB pension even more generous. :
    • kidmugsy
    • By kidmugsy 17th Sep 18, 5:47 PM
    • 12,057 Posts
    • 8,508 Thanks
    kidmugsy
    The pension you build up at USS is deferred pay. Why would you say 'no' to more pay?
    Free the dunston one next time too.
    • DorsetLad
    • By DorsetLad 17th Sep 18, 6:05 PM
    • 31 Posts
    • 26 Thanks
    DorsetLad
    You should sign up to My USS: https://www.uss.co.uk/forms/pre-login/registration

    From it you can get a lot of information about the current benefits from your USS pension, and there are easy-to-use modellers to estimate the projected benefits when you retire.

    To echo what others have said: USS is an excellent pension scheme. I am very glad that I have been able to retire recently with a USS pension. It certainly helps to make up for the generally poor pay levels in academia!
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