[Grammar] lesser or less in this sentece

Kotfor

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Joined
Feb 17, 2011
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Student or Learner
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Ukrainian
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Belarus
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Ukraine
I have come across this sentence

Generally, although it is difficult to prove, if your unique fact situation meets the high factor-based statutory burden, and the marriage lasted for at least 10 years, you may be qualified to receive the lesser of $5,000 or 20% of the spouse’s monthly income, for a period of up to five years.

Introductory remark
I know what "the lesser of two evils" means. We have two evils here. But what about this

1) I am not sure what "the lesser of $5,000". I could understand if it were "the lesser of two amounts" but what is the lesser of $5,000"?

2) Another thing. Would it have a different meaning if I said "to receive less than $5,000 or 20%"?

Any light on the issue?
 

Rover_KE

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Jun 20, 2010
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Retired English Teacher
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English
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England
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England
The sentence is OK as is. The two amounts are 1) $5,000 2) 20% of the spouse's monthly income.

You might understand it better as

'...you may be qualified to receive (either) $5,000 or 20% of the spouse’s monthly income, whichever is the lesser...'

It would clearly have a different meaning if your said '...to receive less than $5,000...'
 
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