When Nina Hayton saw a government advert for pension credit payments in August, she thought that her prayers had been answered.
The 72-year-old former farm secretary, from South Petherton, Somerset, was desperately worried about how she would afford to heat her home this winter, as energy bills soar.
If she was eligible for pension credit —which is paid to pensioners on low incomes — she would receive much-needed extra cash each week and unlock other benefits, such as extra help with fuel bills, council tax and NHS dental treatment.
Most vulnerable: Some pensioners have been left waiting for half a year for vital pension credit in the wake of rising bills
Nina, who is divorced, checked with the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) and payment discovered she could claim as much as £36 a week — plus backdated payments worth an estimated £1,044.
Understandably, she was over the moon: the pension credit would mean she could finally get a new pair of glasses and afford a Christmas gift for her nine-year-old granddaughter.
But earlier this week — nearly four months later, and with Christmas fast approaching — she was still waiting for the money.
For Nina is one of the 60,000 pensioners caught-up in a giant pension credit backlog at the DWP.
Money Mail has discovered that some have been waiting for as long as a half a year for these vital top-ups to the state pension.
The timing couldn’t be worse as the cost of living crisis bites.
For years, pension credit has been one of the biggest untapped resources available to pensioners who retire with little in the way of private savings.
<div class="art-ins mol-factbox floatRHS money" data-version="2" id="mol-fd14d310-7613-11ed-85fe-a5412eabcb66" website service meltdown leaves pensioners waiting SIX MONTHS for cash