Assistant Secretary of Labor Phyllis Borzi told a retirement conference Wednesday that people are afraid to invest to the point of “paralyzation.”

“People feel inadequate. It’s too complicated. They don’t understand basic concepts,” she said at a forum sponsored by the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) in Washington, D.C.

Borzi said this is a major problem for the vast number of retirees who are leaving the workforce with lump-sum retirement plan payouts. She pointed out many individuals have a problem converting these savings into lifetime streams of income.

Since ERISA was enacted, progress has been made in encouraging people to save more, said Borzi, the Labor Department’s retirement policy chief. But many workers tap into those savings early, so there is less available at retirement.

Borzi said she wouldn’t say retirement is a dirty word for millennials, but she said it has a stigma for them.

“To [20-somethings], retirement is something for old people. It’s a million miles away for young people,” she said.

When speaking to young adults about the need to save for their post-working years, she suggested using euphemisms like “future.”

She said one of the problems in that effort is that it’s hard to make financial literacy more interesting than “eat your vegetables.”