Hundreds in line for windfall from USS

February 15, 2002

Hundreds of retired academics may get windfalls of up to £30,000 as the universities pensions scheme corrects an anomaly that went unnoticed for nine years.

The Universities Superannuation Scheme is investigating payments to members who retired on or after September 3 1993, as they may have had money deducted incorrectly. The USS has so far reviewed about 1,000 pensioners'

schemes and has made repayments to 6 retired academics.

Colin Busby, of the USS, said most of the payments were between £1,000 and £2,000, including interest, but some individuals have received as much as £30,000. He said the unforeseen payouts would not impact on the overall assets of the scheme, which has 90,000 members and is based on a fund of £20 billion.

After an investigation of an individual pensioner's benefit deductions, the USS discovered that a rule change had been made in September 1993. The change meant that certain deductions that the USS had been routinely making to benefits have not been allowed since 1993.

The USS rules allow deductions to be made in respect of any benefit paid or payable from another scheme for service that counts as pensionable service in USS. Members had been able to claim credit for university service prior to joining the USS.

But the change to the rules in 1993, which the USS said was not intentional, means that the USS cannot make deductions in respect of benefits in a "non-approved" scheme. This means that members who joined between 1975 and 1980, who had transferred from the Federated Superannuation System for Universities, and were granted overseas university service, had deductions made incorrectly.

The USS said it was also investigating the cases of 1,050 active members who are expected to be given payouts averaging £600. "The scheme actuary has been advised and has confirmed that the amounts are not significant from a funding perspective," the USS has told members.

* The Association of Teachers and Lecturers announced last week that it had recovered more than £5 million for members who were victims of pensions mis-selling. It said that it had obtained the money, restored to occupational pension schemes, for more than 220 people.

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