Sometimes you have no choice but to retire with debt, particularly when an illness or a job loss forces you to quit working earlier than you planned. If you’re on a tight retirement budget, you may not be able to make all your debt obligations — and perhaps you’re wondering how that will affect your Social Security.

Yes, your Social Security benefits can be garnished over unpaid debt, but only in certain circumstances. Basically, the situations that would cause Social Security to withhold your benefits are similar to the ones that would cause the IRS to withhold your tax refund. In essence, if you owe the government or you’ve been ordered by a court to pay money in family law or criminal matters, Social Security could garnish your benefits.

Click here to read on to learn how unpaid debt could affect your benefits.